Oxford Cathedral – SW Day 1

Had a great 120 mile ride today on first stage of my SW route!

Weather was lovely and warm and sunny a lot of the time, but not so much that I melted. 

Was pretty pleased with the route I picked which took me out from Oakham towards Market Harborough and then veered off through Foxton…

  
I then headed south to the west of Northampton via Naseby (and the various battle views) and Creaton with some lovely views of Hollowell Reservoir…

 
I had a quick rest on the green – with a bench aptly engraved with the words ‘Travellers Rest’ – of a quaint village called Gayton. A friendly cyclist called Rob Bedford rode up and then joined me for a few miles into Towcester…
   
    
 
After a spot of lunch I headed off taking in some gorgeous countryside, especially south of Silverstone around the Stowe area and then eventually over the M40 into Oxford….

   
   
 
Oxford is a beautiful city and it was uber busy with tourists, but I have to say that my visit to the cathedral was the most disappointing so far. 

Oxford Cathedral, or rather Christ Church is nestled within the grounds of Christ Church College. What I didn’t realise until I rolled up after 90 miles of cycling is that they close to the public between 4pm and 6pm and don’t allow you to enter the college, where the cathedral is…!

I can understand this, as the gates were awash with tourists wanting to see the ‘Harry Potter bits’ (as I overheard someone saying!). I guess it’s my fault for not checking properly, but usually you can stand in front of a cathedral without issue, so I hadn’t foreseen a problem.  

Anyway…… I settled for a pic from the Botanical Gardens with the cathedral in the background, kindly taken by a very enthusiastic Chinese photographer, and then headed for a coffee at Cafe Loco across the street….

   

   
It was about 5.30pm, so I decided to push on for another 30 miles across the Wessex Downs into Hungerford for the night….

 
 
I’m heading to Salisbury Cathedral in the morning where I’m meeting an old mate who is going to join me on a ride to Dorchester where he’s kindly putting me up for the night. 

The weather forecast is mega, so I’m really looking forward to the riding tomoz!

:-))))

Off to South West!

Right then folks, I’m off shortly to complete the South West route of my Cathedral Cycle Tour which will take me all the way to Truro and back.

Here is a rough map of my intended 720 mile route….

south-west-route-map

On this leg I will be visiting….

Oxford Cathedral (Christ Church)
Salisbury Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral
Truro Cathedral
Wells Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Hereford Cathedral
Birmingham Cathedral
Coventry Cathedral

I hope to average about 100 miles per day, but it may be less than that when I get into the Devon and Cornwall due to the amount of hills! So, I’m hoping that the trip will take 8-9 days in total.

I will be experimenting with a tracking app on this trip, so that people can get an idea of where I am in real time. Here is the link….

https://www.followmee.com/mapx.aspx?token=e9633324-b6a1-4b81-a2a2-052965797385

I will do my best to update with pictures as I travel round! If anyone wants to join me for a few miles on my way round then you would be more than welcome.

Moving forward!

Hey folks, some of you may be wondering where I’ve been for the last few weeks?

Well… the truth is that whilst training for my Cathedral Cycle Tour, out of the blue I started getting a pain in my right knee. DOH…!

I think they call it “Sod’s Law” but despite cycling 4000 miles in roughly 6 months since last June without ANY issues, a week or so before the first big Cathedral ride my knee pain kicked in…

By that time, I had already heavily publicised the ‘Southwell-Derby-Leicester Route’ and lots of other cycling supporters had generously agreed to come along and also raised lots of money for the charity. So the show had to go on! So, my knee was strapped up and I did the 125 miles anyway!

Afterwards, I eased off on the riding but every time I went out on a long ride it came back. So, I sought professional advice, took heed, and as a result have been resting for a number of weeks to get it sorted!

Let me get one thing straight…

I am 100% dedicated to my Cathedral Cycle Tour and I WILL complete the challenge this year as promised, even if I have to cycle it one-legged!

Moving forward… as of this week I am now officially allowed back on the bike but am under instruction to increase mileages back up gradually. So, maximum of 35 miles in one ride this week, increasing by 10 miles a week each week, with 3 days off in between rides. That’s my osteopathic deal!

The good news is that I rode out this evening on the Oakham Cycle Centre weekly ride and was able to ride 30 miles with no issues! So……. I think I’m on the mend!

Firstly, I want to thank my close family and friends for putting up with me whilst I’ve been in such a foul mood, sitting around NOT doing my planned cathedral rides.

Secondly, I’d like to thank all of you for your continued support and urge you to keep a close eye on the Cathedral Cycle Tour because I can guarantee that there will be a few interesting surprises on the way!

Southwell, Derby and Leicester done!

On Saturday 7th of March, I set out with 10 other cycling supporters on a 125m (200km) ride to Southwell Minster, Derby Cathedral and Leicester Cathedral and pushed the current fundraising total to over £2100!

First to Southwell

We we’re blessed with amazing weather, one of the nicest days of the year so far, albeit with a strong south westerly wind. We set off at 7.40am and after 40 miles and just the one puncture, we arrived at the magnificent Southwell Minster at around 10.00am.

Acting Dean, Nigel Coates, kindly came out to meet us and pose for photo. He handed me a copy of their visitor’s guide as a keepsake. The view from the outside is imposing and the inside of the cathedral was no less impressive. Unusually the chairs had been cleared away giving a real sense of the enormity of the space (see pic below).

The struggle to Derby

The 30 mile ride from Southwell to Derby was the toughest section of the ride for me. We were riding into a 20 mile an hour headwind and it wasn’t without hills! I’d spent ages trying to plan a good route but couldn’t seem to avoid main roads (including sections of dual carriage way!) and a number of towns including Eastwood, which we hit at 12.00pm and was of course chocka with Saturday traffic. Not ideal but we managed.

We finally rolled into Derby at 1.00pm and cycled up the appropriately named ‘Amen Alley’, which runs up by the side of the cathedral and leads you to the front where you are met by the impressive spire. We received a very warm welcome from Canon Missioner, Dr Elizabeth Thomson who led us to the cathedral cafe where much needed soup, panninis, coffee and cake (!) were served up. They’d even reserved a table for us downstairs and Elizabeth offered to keep an eye on the bikes, and sweetly sat on the wall by them the entire time we were in the cafe. 🙂

I ventured inside where a school band was in full swing of a rehearsal for their evening concert in the cathedral. They sounded great! The interior had a very different feel to Southwell, less grand perhaps, but much lighter and airier as the sunlight streamed through the large stained glass windows onto the white-painted columns. I liked it.

Cathedral fit for a king!

We pushed on from Derby just after 2pm and headed out on the A514 towards Leicester. One of the low points of our ride was the amount of verbal abuse we received from car windows and pedestrians on this stretch of the journey, the most memorable of which was a man amongst a group of lads standing outside a public house in Ansty at 4pm in the afternoon shouting, “Get a life!”. The irony….

On the plus side, the weather at this point was glorious and the views through places such as Melbourne, Wilson, Bradgate Park and Cropston Water were beautiful. In fact, apart from perhaps the long climb up to Beacon Hill at 90 miles in (!) this was my favourite part of the ride.

Arriving at Leicester Cathedral felt a bit like coming home. They were so welcoming! The Dean, The Very Revd David Monteith immediately stepped out to greet us and pose for a photo. I was very grateful to him for this given the fact that the cathedral staff are currently so busy organising the reinterment of King Richard III on March 22nd. In fact, the BBC film crews were just leaving as we arrived.

We were invited to park our bikes up inside and were served up tea/coffee and large slab of cake. Perfect. We were also able to see the area where Richard III will be situated – although it was of course screened off (see pic).

The grind home…

The last 25 miles were always going to be tough! Everyone’s knees started giving out and every hill was a struggle as we headed back via Keyham, Hungarton and Marefield. We finally rolled down Cold Overton Hill and back to Oakham by 7.00pm and then regrouped in the Lord Nelson for a few well deserved ales.

The fundraising total at the time of writing is £2151.73 and rising! Not donated yet? Then just click here to go to the Donate page!

Next up is East Anglia (dates TBC). Four cathedrals over 250 miles in two days including Peterborough, Norwich, Bury St Edmunds and Ely. Looking forward to that one!

Rethink Fundraiser of the Month!

Just a quick post to announce that Rethink Mental Illness have made me their Fundraiser of the Month! I’m very grateful to them for doing that and increasing the awareness of my challenge. Hopefully this will help to spur some more cyclists to support me and others to donate to the cause.

Read the full article >>