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!