Three intrepid Masons set off to cycle 174 miles along the Way of the Roses from the Midland Hotel in Morecambe to the promenade at Bridlington in East Yorkshire. The trip took 3 days.
The cycle ride was the brainchild of Stewart Aimson from Vale Lodge No 5256, who was joined by Alan Proctor and Carl Horrax both from Silverdale Lodge No 6926. Over £2,500 was raised for St John’s Hospice and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
Stewart came up with the idea after his seven-year-old daughter Lexi had taken part in a bike ride for the local hospice’s birthday. After consulting Lancaster Group Chairman Neil McGill, Stewart wrote to local lodges asking brethren for assistance to provide back-up support. Alan and Carl soon volunteered to accompany him.
The event was advertised to local lodges and financial donations were received from lodges within the West Lancashire Province and as far away as Shropshire. Stewart was full of excitement and trepidation and despite training in the gym, was still worried that as a taxi driver he may have bitten off more than he could chew!
On the commencement of the bike ride, friends and family came to see the cyclists depart from the Midland Hotel where the sun was shining with a light breeze in the air. The group set off along a cycle track in the direction of Lancaster and then across to Gressingham, Hornby and Wray, before the first major rest break at Settle. Here the support vehicle had already found a café for the team to have a bite to eat.
After a brief rest the group set off again and then had to proceed up a hill with a 20% gradient. At this point, they slowly trudged up the hill to the summit where it occurred to them this might be a little harder work than they had expected! The first overnight stop was at Pateley Bridge where they enjoyed a well-earned rest.
The following morning the group set off for Ripon having to tackle the last of the steep hills. Stewart decided to walk up the hill and agreed to meet the others on the summit. When he arrived at the summit, he discovered the other two had gone straight ahead down a hill instead of taking a left turn. Once they realized their mistake it was agreed that Carl and Alan would carry on and meet in Ripon.
On arrival in Ripon, Stewart phoned the other two and discovered that they had taken a lengthy detour! Stewart met up with John Bates who was driving the support vehicle and waited for Carl and Alan to arrive! Mike Ashton from Poulton le Sands Lodge No 1051 joined them on his motorcycle and provided moral support, checking the best route and riding with them to Boroughbridge and Linton-on-Ouse, before the cyclists tackled the final leg of the second day, culminating with an overnight stop at York.
Stewart had arranged a visit to a lodge meeting in York where they had a welcome reception and enjoyed watching a raising ceremony. At the festive board the WM arranged a collection for them which raised nearly £100.
The three cyclists set off the next day for the final leg on a route which took them through the centre of York and then to Pocklington for their first rest break, then on to Driffield, completing one of the longest stretches of constant cycling without a break in the three days, covering 26 miles. It was during this stretch that the group encountered their only accident when Alan Proctor fell off his bike and cut his arm. He was patched up by Kevin Rawcliffe who was driving the support vehicle.
The last rest stop was in Driffield with only 18 miles to go. At this point, with windy roads, the heavens opened and this was soon followed by hailstones. The storm lasted for 15 minutes before the sun reappeared with a final 10 miles to go. The cyclists finally arrived in Bridlington and rode onto the promenade where they were pleased to see the sign marking the end of the ‘Way of the Roses.’
This was a challenge that all three cyclists wanted to do for their own personal reasons. Stewart, Alan and Carl are grateful to Gwen Proctor (Alan’s wife), John Bates, Mike Ashton, Kevin Rawcliffe and Geoff Sackville Wiggins for their support. They all helped make an adventure and experience such a good time. This, personally, was a challenge of a lifetime. It started as an idea but helped raise so much money for worthy causes.