We join long-serving Cheshire club Macclesfield Wheelers on a very special reliability ride
- Photos by Andy Jones
“I don’t like hills, but maybe they’re harder because I just go faster these days,” confesses Pat Byrne. She certainly doesn’t hang about. She’s been zooming up and down the tough drags on today’s tour of Alderley Edge in north-east Cheshire like a mountain goat.
“I must be getting fitter. I’m heading back out to Majorca with the club in a few weeks. I rode Sa Calobra [Majorca’s foremost mountain challenge] last year, and I can’t wait to do it again.”
It’s a far cry from her first ride with the club seven years ago: “Would you believe I turned up to my first ride on a mountain bike, with my best jeans and top on, with my handbag over my shoulder!” Byrne laughs. “I somehow managed 30 miles! The week after I ditched the handbag and borrowed a road bike that had five gears, and that was it, I was hooked.”
Byrne is one of around 80 riders who have turned up today for Barry Hyde’s Tour of the Edge, a ride devised by Hyde himself around the ridge of Alderley Edge, right in between the Peak District and Cheshire Plains. Hyde was a linchpin of the club’s success and since his death his well-devised reliability ride is now seen as a memorial ride.
“It’s a bit like a mini Tour of Flanders as it also uses a ridge line and cobbled climbs,” says long-standing member Moray MacNee. “We’ve split into about five or six groups today. The fastest group, led by Chris Quin and with guest rider Mike Cuming [pro rider for Australian-based UCI Continental team State of Matter-MAAP Racing], will take in an extra seven miles and an extra cobbled climb, while the leisure group will miss the cobbles out and have a slightly shorter ride. It’s a great route that never sees us more than six miles from Macclesfield, but tests every rider to the max.”
“It’s a clever route that caters for all,” says John Hyde, Barry’s son. “The beauty of it is that if you blow in your group, you can always cut a section out or drop back to a slower group. I’ve never quite made it with the super-fast guys, but it’s all about getting out and being social. This is a big event for me, quite nostalgic.”
“The only downside today,” says David Higham, Macclesfield Wheelers’ media coordinator, “is that you soon realise that every hill you descend, you’ll eventually have to climb back up, but it’s a real sense of achievement.”
It is indeed a fantastic route with groups of bright orange jerseys criss-crossing the ridgeline, passing each other with constant hollers of encouragement and cheery waves. It’s a brilliant way of giving everyone in the club a great workout, with the opportunity to meet up in the cafe afterwards to dissect their rides over a brew or two.
Something for everyone
“That’s what’s so great about being part of such a wide-ranging club,” says ride leader for the leisure group, John Jackson. “Everyone can get a ride, so there are many family group members. My son helps lead this group, and the club chair, Jill Wesley, is my cousin. Her dad and our mums both rode in the club.”
“It’s why I put myself forward as chairperson,” says Wesley. “It was important to keep the club’s values for everyone, both the racers and leisure cyclists. Barry was key to instilling this in every rider he rode with and it’s a legacy we continue to this day. We all ensure everyone is looked after and feels they’re all part of the wider Macclesfield Wheelers family. I think he would have been really proud of today’s turnout.”
Macclesfield Wheelers was formed in 1948. The inaugural meeting took place at the George Hotel with 23 interested people attending, including two women. Albert Brough was elected president and the name Macclesfield Wheelers was chosen with the original club colours of black and white. Affiliation to the National Cyclists Union (NCU) meant they could only ride track and circuits.
In the 1950s the club merged with Macclesfield Couriers, which was founded by Terry Wesley in 1952 and affiliated to the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC) in order to race on the road. The club also adopted the Couriers’ brighter colours of tangerine, green and black.
Annually Macclesfield Wheelers organise two road races and an open 25-mile time trial. The club also hosts the Macc Supacross, one of the UK’s largest and most popular cyclo-cross events. In addition to this, it runs a season-long competition of 10-mile time trials, two hill-climbs, and two inter-club 25-mile events with Congleton Cycling Club.
- Former Continental pro Dave Cuming and his son Mike, professional with State of Matter-MAAP, both started with the club, as did Paralympic silver medallist and former world time trial champion, Colin Lynch.
- Chris Quin is the current TLI national criterium champion.
- Ruth Gamwell was GHS champion in 1990, junior BBAR 1991; Three Peaks winner in 1996 and veterans champion in the same event in 2014.
- Roger Wrenn holds multiple VTTA age group records.
- David Higham has three VTTA (and one TLI) age group National Championships titles to his name.
Macclesfield Wheelers club run
1 Woodbrook Road
At just 700 metres and rising up to over 20 per cent in places, this cobbled climb requires grit and determination to reach the top — but what a sense of achievement when you do.
2 Birtles Lane
From the top you get a great view over the Cheshire Plains and the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, before the fast and flowing descent. The only downside is you’ll also have to climb back up.
3 Redesmere Lane
The official loop takes you down this climb, but riding this small section in reverse allows you to climb this quieter narrow lane, and even stop for a sneaky ice cream by the lake at the bottom.
Flora Tea Rooms, in Henbury, is a stone’s throw from the day’s last big climb. The food is exquisite and the coffee is fantastic. Flora Tea Rooms, Spinks Farm, Chelford Road, Henbury, Macclesfield, SK11 9PG
01625 502300 www.floratearooms.co.uk
Meets: There are three main rides on Saturday, two road (fast and slow) and one off-road ride, all starting at 1pm from Park Grove car park. The ladies-only club runs meet on Saturday morning at 10am from Chelford Island. Beginners and easy rides occur on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings throughout the year at various times and locations — see website for full details. Sunday and weekend events, which include faster and longer rides, are posted on the club website. Intermediate chaingang is on a Monday night and a faster one on Wednesday night. Both meet at 7pm at Broken Cross, Macclesfield.