Saturday 23rd June saw the 5th annual Dawn ’til Dusk (D2D) ride – 220 miles in 1 day
What began with a few mates doing a bonkers ride, has become a club institution, and since 2016 with it’s fundraising link, it has captured the imagination of the wider community in Frodsham and beyond. This year the club decided to use the ride in order to raise funds for a charity very dear to a number of club member’s hearts — Halton Haven Hospice.
Leg 1 – Frodsham to Llanwrst via Liverpool
The ride began as tradition dictates at 3.30am outside Twelve50 Bikes in Frodsham, where club riders mixed with Friday night revellers in the balmy heat of a rapidly developing June Heatwave. Rucksacks dumped in the boot of Ciaran Pickering’s blingy support vehicle and the group began to roll up to Runcorn, where the number swelled to 18 and prayers were said for safe passage across the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge.
Bang on time the peloton arrived at the Birkenhead tunnel entrance in Liverpool City Centre and after joining forces with a few North Enders including Liverpool Century rider Ian Craig (this year’s elder statesman) and a rapid photo shoot, the Wheelers went subaqua emerging on the Wirral Peninsula to clear blue skies and empty roads.
the road began to rise and the scenery began to wow…
As is traditional, the early hours in the D2D are utilised for getting the flat early miles covered and an hour later after some comedy through and off (some riders not familiar with regular club ride rules) the road began to rise and the scenery began to wow the peloton.
Leg 1 went like clockwork, a planned split into 2 groups in order to placate Saturday drivers working nicely and just before 9am the group rolled down into Llanwrst for breakfast at La Barrica where friend of the club Lyndsey and her team worked wonders, bunged some much appreciated cash into the charity coffers and the group rolled out onto Leg 2.
Leg 2 – Llanwrst to Harlech
In the brief history of D2D there have only been 2 route changes and the 2018 ride saw the introduction of the road to Penmachno and the climb they call on Strava “Not for the faint hearted!“, a Category 3 Climb of 24 minutes for some and twice that for others. Just as the climb began the temperature began to soar and the riders were greeted by Ciaran ringing his Cowbell (Nice touch Ciaran) and the odd bemused sheep.
The summit of the climb, basically in wilderness, became an impromptu rest stop. The group, previously well on schedule, quickly became quite tardy — ride organiser Mark Stevens reverted to type and screamed for the group to get a wriggle on.
…the group approached Harlech — the first signs of fatigue appeared…
Well, the descent through Llan Ffestiniog and Maentwrog is an absolute stunner. I would say the ascent and descent are pure classics and I think this route is a ‘keeper’. As the group approached Harlech the first signs of fatigue appeared and not before time the group rolled into Norbar for lunch.
Well, a new scheduled stop but Norbar didn’t disappoint. A reserved seating area, swift service, stunning views, wonderful sunshine and spirits were high, a few beers were quaffed, James Male ate his customary 2 pizzas, Brigid Wilde, Sarah Illidge and Lady Dianne Turner had a glamour shoot and once again it was up to ride organiser to ‘Break it up’ and get the team rolling.
…big Robert Macleod started his one man sufferfest…
Leg 3 – Barmouth to Llangollen
Leg 3 saw the 53 miles stretch from Barmouth to Llangollen and it’s here that the heat and distance started to take it’s toll. Emerging from Barmouth as 3 groups, before long the groups, shifted, shuffled and stretched up the A494 as far as the eye can see. It’s here that big Robert Macleod started his one man sufferfest, but full credit Rob, you dug in.
The group regrouped at Bala Lake before the elastic snapped again on the very bonky route around Lake Bala. At Llandrillo we cleared out the clubs new favourite ice cream stop and the bizarre sight of 15 Wheelers sat on someone’s front step puzzled some locals on horses and in clapped out classic cars.
…avoid the Horseshoe Pass — Surely not?
The group rolled into Cottage Tea Rooms in Llangollen pretty knackered and dishevelled, but were overjoyed to see food service was rapid (joined by the odd beer and gin). With the lateness in the day came rumblings and rumours of a change in route to avoid the Horseshoe Pass — Surely not?! in addition, and more importantly, a plan to extend the finish of the ride to Halton Haven Hospice seemed quite unlikely due to ‘light issues’.
Leg 4 – the Horseshoe Pass to Halton Haven
Leg 4 began with the group rolling off up the Horseshoe Pass in ones and twos and the pace was… erm… as expected. It was starting to get a bit dusky, and a tad chilly, arm warmers were being donned at the summit whilst the group waited for the stragglers.
…James Male in his customary position on the front
Things looked rather grim actually, but over the following 15-20 miles the peloton seemed inspired by the challenge of getting to Halton Haven. By Kinnerton the rallying cry was made and the pace picked up, and up, and up — with James Male in his customary position on the front.
At 9.35pm, an elated peloton rolled into Frodsham, horns were honked, thanks Susan Wilde for your welcome!, and after a few farewells the rest of the peloton continued up to Murdishaw, where we were greeted by the Angels of Halton Haven, wives, other halves. After many smiles, embraces, a few tears and a few photos, the group dispersed after another year.
I would like to thank the following people
To all our fundraisers in particular Chris Hanson-Jones and Danny Emmett for liaising with Halton Haven, all our sponsors, fellow Wheelers, the staff at Halton Haven for your great work, your support for our event and finally and not least the riders (as they say in no particular order) – Martin Sam Geer (2 epics in 2 weeks), Nathan Morgan-Astle (such strength and enthusiasm for the epic climb!), Robert Macleod (dug in!), Stephen Wright (Tom Dumoulin… for all the right reasons), Chris Hanson-Jones (Thanks for all sponsorship from Viridor), Alan Orme (needed that spinny gear eh Al), Brigid Wilde (workhorse on the front), Dianne Turner (rocking that white kit), James ‘2 Pizzas’ Male, Danny Emmett (thanks for your rear gunner support mate), Chris ‘2 minutes late’ Fowler, Stuart Lloyd (without the aid of a backpack), Kevin Sales (super strong), Peter Prince (no denim?), Sarah Illidge (Used it ‘as training’!), Aidan ‘The Tan’ Warder, Dan ‘The Regular’ Walker, Ian Craig (Liverpool Century), Dean Smith (forget the Shoe, finished strong!), myself the slightly hoarse and time obsessed organiser and finally, an inspiration to us all, Gaz Minnis who rode under very difficult circumstances but rode with great spirit and strength. We salute you Gaz!
Wheelers, when the legs were weak you rode with your hearts for this great charity, (over £5000 raised and still rising). Kudos one and all.
And where would we be without our motor support extraordinaire – Ciaran Pickering – always there when we needed you with great humour, and a cowbell of course. A heartfelt thanks for all your help and your donation.
The Frodsham Wheelers would like to dedicate this ride to Robert (Bob) Gray
22nd February 1937 ~ 24th June 2018 — Rest In Peace.