The third day of my visit to Liverpool saw me boarding a train beneath the Mersey to Bebington, to meet Ian.
Ian Tierney was my boss for the two-and-a-half years I spent working at the Liverpool Cycle Centre. He was brought up working with bikes and he taught me most of what I know about cycling. He now runs Cycling Projects, a Manchester-based charity.
We see each other about twice a year, and whenever we meet up we try and find a few spare hours for a bike ride. This is normally off-road, as Ian acknowledges that’s always been my riding of choice, so he climbs aboard his mountain bike and humours me for a couple of hours.
But Ian’s heart lies in the tarmac. He has fun on off-road, but he’s happiest when zipping along on big skinny wheels and drop bars. So imagine the excitement when I arrived on Merseyside accompanied by my new road bike – my first road bike. I arrived at Ian’s house with my shiny new Specialized and found him grinning from ear to ear. Not because he was pleased to see me, but pleased to see me “on a proper bike, for once!”
So we set off through the twisting country lanes of Wirral, as Ian guided me and my new bike through a labyrinth of villages and meadows. Our first stop was my inaugural visit to ‘Two Mills’ café, known to every roadie in the northwest as the definitive place to enjoy a cup of tea and compare handlebars.
Then we made our way to Raby, a village so picturesque you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in rural France, not the suburbs of Liverpool. We enjoyed a couple of pints in the sunshine and reflected on a decade of friendship, ten years of riding together, and the ten years it had taken me to get myself a bike that Ian approved of. It was a great afternoon.