Friends cycling in memory of popular Billinge dad

Dave Hitchen
Dave Hitchen

A group of friends are getting back into the saddle for the toughest challenge of their lives in memory of a Billinge man who died in a road traffic collision.

Former Great Britain cyclist Dave Hitchen was killed aged 42 while acting as a steward at the Bolton Bash cycling sportive.

Now eight pals of Dave, known to pals as Fast Hitch, are planning on tackling the gruelling one-day cycling event, The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge.

Dave, was described a “genuinely funny guy and a wonderful father and family man”. He died in 2014. All funds raised will go to the North West Air Ambulance service.

Riders will endure 112 miles starting at Grasmere before taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes.

The notorious Hardknott pass includes a 30 per cent gradient and greets riders at 98 miles. The total climb for the event is a few feet shy of 13,000ft.

Their challenge however, begins earlier, as the group are planning a series of spinathons to encourage others to get on their bikes.

The first event will be on the evening of Tuesday, January 30 at Queens Park Health and Fitness, St Helens.

Graeme Cox, one of the challenge organisers, said: “I’ve taken part in several challenges over the last few years, but this is going to be the toughest yet.

I’m really hoping we can do Dave’s memory proud and reach our target of £2000 to say thank you to North West Air Ambulance.”

To find out more and to take part in the charity events email Darren McWalters at