Daniel Rowland – a tribute from Amos Road Club.
Dan and I are the only two people who have completed all the Amos Road Club rides. In fact the Road Club itself wouldn’t have existed at all if it had not been for Dan’s enthusiasm to follow our first ride together the 2008 Coast to Coast (C2C for street kids) with a Welsh version the following year. Dan and Simon Braybrook organised this and then Dan went on to organise London to Paris ride in 2010 with Adrian Reith.
Dan, just like most of us, was a complete novice in 2008. Whenever I think of Dan from that ride I immediately think of the Welsh four Dan, Simon, Karen and Sarah. They had such a good time that they even somehow managed to convince Jochen to go off roading with them – he hadn’t quite realised that you were meant to stay on your bike.
I got to know Dan in Wales in 2009 – we may even have shared a room a couple of times. Of all our rides Wales was my favourite. We had great weather and it was stunning scenery with great climbs and great descents. Starting off in Anglesey we headed south on the Lon Las Cymru ride. The second morning crossing the Mawddach estuary was breathtaking and then heading down into the hills around Brecon and watching the Lions lose to South Africa in the final minute. Dan struggled with puncture after puncture and his cycle shirt ended up covered in oil. We finished in Cardiff with a fantastic meal at Dan and Diane’s and an annual pattern was established.
The next year was London to Paris (well Cambridge /Cardiff- London – Paris). Dan’s organisation was immaculate, even if the map reading leaving London and cycling round and round in Dieppe at 4:00am left a great deal to the imagination. On Day 1, in perpetual and horrible rain Dan would be stopping at every junction to study his highly detailed A4 maps, which were almost 1:1 scale such was their detail.
One of the great joys of this and subsequent rides was that Dan’s father Richard joined us – from then on, they were simply described as Richard’s son or Dan’s dad. Their pride and delight in doing these rides together as well as their obvious affection was wonderful and became a feature of subsequent rides. We all felt so proud to have them both involved and also a little jealous as so many of us have lost fathers- and in some ways this makes Dan’s death even more heartbreaking for us all.
Dan and I were in the same middle speed group for this ride –cursing Sarah Fry’s frequent punctures and watching the Coq massive speed off into the distance, only for us to overtake them 10 miles later and then finish each days ride half an hour before them and having done 5 miles less riding. We spent so much time talking about families and children. Dan’s love for Diane and joy, delight and pride in his son and then in subsequent rides his sons was always so evident.
The next year was Scotland and Dan’s enthusiasm for whiskey seemed to take hold. We battled the worst weather ever and then forgot all about as we celebrated at the foot of Ben Nevis and tried to sleep in the same room as 12 other cyclists and a cacophony of snores.
Dan’s journey to and from the Norfolk ride in 2012 was a demonstration on the how to inadvertently drag out a cross-country train journey to last several days.
Then finally Belgium 2013 where I saw very little of Dan – as he, Dean and Ben headed off on their own route from London to Bruges. The three lost deep in conversation and a shared love of exploring alternative routes. We would only meet over some ludicrously strong beer each evening when we were both too tired and too …. to say anything other than complete nonsense.
Dan’s death has been a real shock to the entire Road Club. I have had emails from nearly every member expressing their sadness and shock at this news. Very few of us had any idea of how ill Dan was and how he had struggled with depression. We saw very much the lighter and more playful side of his nature and it was really clear how much he loved coming on these rides. He will be greatly missed by all of us and we can only imagine the loss that all of the family are experiencing now.
Kip Gresham summed up some of our feelings: “The shared endeavour, the shared experiences, the shared challenges unite the Road Club. It’s mostly a non-verbal communication, a shared understanding of what it is to be human, part of a community, part of the world. So, for many people, Dan was and is one of us. Part of the shared experience and memory, a treasured part.”
Dan, may the wind always be on your back. May your gear changes be as smooth as silk and may yours be an eternity without punctures.
Go in peace dear friend.