Whichever English cathedral you visit this year, you will be able to arrive by bike thanks to a unique partnership between Sustrans, Cycling UK, the British Pilgrimage Trust and the Association of English Cathedrals that will link all 42 Church of England cathedrals in a new initiative to promote greener travel and mental and physical wellbeing.
Get on your bike: Cycle routes linking every English cathedral to be launched in Bike Week
Note: The cathedral bicycle routes announcement is really getting in the news and is all over social media. Here are a few of the stories in the press.
In Cycling UK as part of Bike Week here.
In the Hampshire Chronicle here.
And in Bike Biz here.
The 2,000 mile Cathedrals Cycle Route is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University, and is designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental well-being activities.
Shaun and a small group of cyclists will launch the route with a relay event, Cycling With Purpose, setting out from Newcastle Cathedral, the most northerly Anglican Cathedral, on Sunday May 30. The relay will coincide with The World’s Biggest Bike Ride, marking the opening day of Bike Week (May 30 – June 5 2021), the annual celebration of all things cycling, delivered by Cycling UK.
Shaun, who has worked with Newcastle Cathedral, Sustrans, Cycling UK and the British Pilgrimage Trust to design the 42 linked routes, said:
“The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them.
“Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, this is a way to support people’s mental and physical health and promote the mission of England’s cathedrals through pilgrimage, wellbeing and heritage.”
The relay ride will transport a specially commissioned baton, Olympic torch-style, around the whole route passing along to different groups of cyclists at each cathedral who can join the ride for as little or as long as they like, with a group returning 42 days later (weather permitting) having cycled every Church of England Cathedral.
The relay ride will raise money for Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle appeal, which aims to help improve people’s wellbeing through the charity’s community cycling clubs, activities and projects nationwide.
Sarah Mitchell, chief executive of Cycling UK, said:
“This year’s Bike Week event is all about how cycling boosts well-being: physical, mental and emotional. Apart from the obvious health benefits of getting active and reducing our reliance on polluting vehicles, cycling gives us time to think, to reconnect with the outside world, and to meet other people. Our community projects around the country help people come together to ride, to chat, and to learn a skill that gives them mobility and independence, and we are delighted that the launch of this route will also raise funds to help this valuable work.”
It is hoped that the relay ride will become an annual event and will encourage more and more people to get on their bikes this year and beyond.
Each cathedral aims to have a dedicated cycle champion to improve the cycle-readiness of their buildings, ensure a warm welcome for visiting cyclists and increase the number that arrive on two wheels – currently around five per cent.
It is also an opportunity for cathedrals to find new partnerships, promote mental and physical well-being and create new links to healthier activities and sustainable travel.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route comes on the back of an initiative early last year between the Association of English Cathedrals and the British Pilgrimage Trust that established a pilgrimage route to every Church of England cathedral taking in established wayfarer routes, other places of faith, spiritual pathways and lesser known pilgrim ways enabling visitors to arrive on foot.
The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Revd Peter Howell Jones, a keen cyclist and an executive member of the Association of English Cathedrals said:
“Every cathedral has an opportunity to be at the heart of initiatives to support its communities in recovery and as Christian people we have a huge responsibility for the stewardship of our creation.
“The Cathedrals Cycles Route is a wonderful way of bringing together these two important strands of our mission and ministry, and together with the pilgrim routes, allows visitors to appreciate not just the beauty and sanctity of our building, but to enjoy the journey between them as well,’ he added.
The Dean will join Shaun and the small group riding out from Newcastle on May 30 to launch the new route.
Here is the link for the cathedral cycle routes.
Cathedrals Cycle Routes – Prayers
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
For the beauty all around us.
For the freedom of the road.
For the joy of travelling lightly through our world.
We give you thanks, O God.
For strength of heart and limb.
For brains alert, and senses full.
For pedal power and bikes to ride.
We give you thanks, O God.
For the support of our companions on the journey.
For landmarks on the route.
For times to stop and rest awhile.
We give you thanks, O God.
May this journey be a blessing
to us and those we meet.
May we travel as your pilgrim people:
open to your presence as we go.
May our departure,
and our arrival
be marked by deep gratitude
for all we shall accomplish
and all that is yet to come.
A Prayer for Safe Travels
O God, our heavenly Father,
whose glory fills the whole creation,
and whose presence we find wherever we go:
preserve these who travel;
surround them with your loving care;
protect them from every danger;
and bring them in safety to their journey’s end;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Adapted from the old Celtic blessing:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rain fall soft upon your path.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Cathedrals Cycle Route as a cyclist you should visit the Cycling UK website.
A Pilgrim Passport might be just what you need to accompany you on your ride and help you record your visits to cathedrals.
You can also join the CCR Strava club and record your rides here.