It’s coming home …
Not that ….(but we want that to come home too!!) but the baton that has been passed Olympic style between every one of our 42 cathedrals on the new Cathedrals Cycle Route.
This Saturday sees the final group of cyclists arrive back into Newcastle bringing home the specially commissioned baton following 42 days of cycling between every Church of England cathedral over the last 42 days.
The relay – the first of its kind in the country – left Newcastle Cathedral on May 30 and has seen over 250 cyclists riding different legs of the route between each cathedral and raised more than £5,000 for various charities, including Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle.
This final group of cyclists, led by Shaun Cutler, the architect of the new Cathedrals Cycle Route, aim to arrive back into Newcastle in time for the cathedral bells to toll midday and will be greeted with champagne and Greggs pasties (other pasties are available) in true Geordie style.
The cyclists plan to pay their respects in front of the war memorial inside Newcastle Cathedral commemorating members of the Army Cyclist Corps, 8th (Cyclist) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, later the Northern Cyclist Battalion who served and lost their lives during the First World War.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route is a unique partnership between Sustrans, Cycling UK, the British Pilgrimage Trust and the Association of English Cathedrals that links all 42 Church of England Cathedrals in a new initiative to promote greener travel and mental and physical wellbeing.
Academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University, designed the project 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 launched the route with this relay event, Cycling With Purpose, setting out from Newcastle Cathedral, the most northerly Anglican Cathedral, on Sunday May 30 – the start of UK Bike Week – and Shaun has joined the different teams riding many of the different legs between the cathedrals over the last 42 days.
“The Cathedrals Cycle Route is a magnificent route with such diversity, and using our historic cathedrals as the start and end point provides a great feeling of purpose and achievement.”
Over the 42 day period, the weather has been mostly kind to our intrepid groups of cyclists, with sunshine most of the way for the first two weeks before they hit some serious rain in the south west of the country.
In the course of their travels, they have been joined by a cathedral cat, an elephant, three bishops, 20 cathedral canons, entertainer, Timmy Mallet and welcomed by a host of dedicated cathedral cycle champions. They suffered one wheel blow out and ten punctures. And to mark the launch of this, the first Cathedrals Cycle Route, Worcester Cathedral unveiled a new set of bike racks especially for visitors arriving on two wheels in future.
“This relay has been an amazing collective achievement by so many people who have helped keep the baton moving over the last 42 days.
“It has been an absolute privilege to have been involved in such a fabulous route. I think together we have created a great new challenge, and one that anyone can enjoy, whatever their ability.
“And as Covid restrictions in this country open up more and more, I urge everyone to get on their bikes, enjoy our amazing cathedrals and the spaces between them.”
It is hoped that the Cathedrals Cycle Route relay ride will become an annual event and that the route, with its opportunities for short and longer rides, will encourage more and more people to get on their bikes this year and beyond.
Most cathedrals now 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.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route comes on the back of an initiative 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 existing wayfarer routes, other places of faith, spiritual pathways and lesser known pilgrim ways, enabling visitors to arrive on foot.
So whatever way you want to visit a cathedral this year as restrictions are loosened, you can come on two feet, two wheels or four.
And here is the link for the pilgrimage routes.
Read more about the Cathedrals Cycle Route:
PLEASE check the website of the individual cathedral ahead of your visit for times. You may have to book ahead and there may be Covid restrictions in place to help keep us all safe.