A team of intrepid GRM cyclists have completed the Way of the Roses in memory of dearly missed friend and colleague, Tony Heron, who sadly passed away in December 2017.
Part of the GRM family for nearly 20 years, Tony was open to new experiences and could always be relied upon for a helping hand. He cycled from Whitehaven to Sunderland in 2011 and completed the Devon Coast to Coast in 2012, before transitioning to a support role for later journeys in Scotland and France. As well as providing valuable moral support, Tony also fulfilled the vital job of carrying kit. Over the years, he rescued tired cyclists from dark roads in the middle of the night, fixed bags, provided food and support when it was most needed. He seemed to have a sixth sense for the most difficult parts of a route and often appeared bearing sustenance just as the cyclists hit their lowest ebb.
Geoff recalls a tough day on the West Highland Way in 2015. In terrain too rough to cycle, they were forced to carry their bikes and contemplated throwing everything into Loch Lomond. At the end of the section, Tony was waiting with a pint for each of them and the welcome announcement that he had ordered curry. On another occasion, Tony met the cyclists outside of Fort William with a tray of doughnuts and the reassurance that they were ‘close to the end’ – they were, in fact, nowhere near.
It was, then, fitting to remember Tony by cycling the Way of the Roses, a beautiful route from Morecombe, in Lancashire, to Bridlington in Yorkshire that he would have loved. Over three days, covering 50-60 miles per day, the GRM cyclists passed through the Lune Valley, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Yorkshire Wolds on their way to Bridlington Bay.
Day 1: Morecombe to Grassington – a hilly 48 miles in wet weather; it rained all day. Stopped for refreshments at The Naked Man café in Settle and Bill took the opportunity to dry his wet clothes at the launderette.
Day 2: Grassington to York included some beautiful views! Weather was dry, dark, cold and windy. Climbed an almost impossible hill before sailing down the infamous Greenhow Hill descent into Pateley Bridge.
Bill had fallen behind and, once he caught up with the group, he immediately inquired about the nearest train station. But, after a couple of pints in a nearby pub (including one pint taken to-go in his travel cup), a huge Chelsea bun and a black pudding pork pie, Bill was re-energised.
Unfortunately, he then took a wrong fork and became lost on the way to York. The others arrived at the guest house, where they were greeted by the owner who enquired as to the whereabouts of the fourth member of the party. As they were having this exchange, Bill appeared behind them! Whatever detour he had taken, he had caught them up despite being chased by a dog, causing him to fall off his bike and sustain a minor knee injury – others say the second pint may have played a role in this.
The final day brought perfect cycling weather; cool but dry. Since they were travelling at different paces, they split up, coming back together in Bridlington as they crossed the finish line in mid-afternoon. Bill had got lost, again, and so he entered last after having a break on his detour for a pint of Guinness Pale Ale. Once everyone had reassembled, they ate fish and chips on the seafront.
Having finished The Way of the Roses, the group have now completed each of the UK’s Coast to Coast cycle routes.