2015 Bike 'n' Hike by Leanne Cutler (St Ippolyts Church Treasurer)
On a warm, sunny Saturday there is nothing better than getting out on your bike, and I am no stranger to this (see picture 2 of me performing in Time Trial). However on Saturday 12th September this was a ride with a difference .... it was the annual sponsored Bike 'n' Hike in aid of Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust. I had done this 2 years ago (2013) when the weather hadn't been as favourable so was most grateful in the run up to te event to see that the Met Office had forecast sunshine. In the weeks leading up to the ride I gathered sponsorship from fellow parishioners, family and friends (including my 6yr old son Ethan). A pledge of £1 per church by my better half Jason made me determined to maximise church/mileage. With the carefully planned route loaded into my Garmin (“Sat Nav” for cyclists), energy drink bottles filled, energy bars and spare inner tubes in pockets, tyres pumped to 110 psi (maximising speed!) and my 2 sponsor forms almost full I was ready for the off. I had decided to start not on my doorstep but at St Marys in Pirton. I was there 10 am on the dot and after the kind lady manning the church signed my form I was being offered biscuits and refreshments...... at this rate I would be putting on a stone whilst cycling. I kindly declined explaining I was trying to achieve 55 churches and so time was of the essence. After St Marys and Methodist churches in Pirton I peddled to St Peters, Holwell, St Katherines, Ickleford then descended upon Hitchin with its denser population of churches. St Marks, Christcurch, Tilehouse St, St Marys, Walsworth Rd, Holy Saviour and St Faiths completed the set (although I was disappointed to note that Christian centre was closed and I could not find Friends Meeting House at Paynes Park).
Eleven churches down and I had managed to decline all offers of biscuits and sweets so far. Next stop Letchworth. First to St Michaels where a notice on the door stated to sign it and then proceed to its sister church St Marys where they attendant would sign all forms for both churches. After becoming a little lost I finally found my way ... oh well what was a few miles extra. Then it was onto St Georges, URC and St Pauls. I then decided to be brave and detour from my original planned route and head out to All Saints, Willian, St Marys at Great and Little Wymondley before reaching our own St Ippolyts church at 12:43pm. I have to admit there was no temptation to head home .... I was enjoying myself too much! 20 churches down .......how many to go?????
Picture 1: beautiful sunshine and countryside
The cycle to the next church, St Marys at Gravely was a little longer but not as far as St Marys at Walkern but what beautiful countryside to enjoy the view. At least there was also URC at Walkern too although the lady was most keen to show me all the pictures before and after of the great work that had been funded by the charity. Next to St Marys in Aston, Trinity, St Martins and St Thomas More in Knebworth, All Saints Datchworth, St Michaels Woolmer Green and St Marys in Old Welwyn. The 3 ladies manning the church there couldnt quite believe I had visited 30 churches. However it was 3pm and time was ticking so I made a hasty exit to then progress to St Peters in Tewin. I have to admit I was in need of water top up and some sugar and the array of cakes on offer was too good to refuse ... along with the offer of a cup of coffee so I accepted and had a 15 min break, whilst chatting about cycling with 2 fellow riders (one of which I met at 4 subsequent churches!). After my beather I was off to Welwyn Garden City, Christ the King, St Francis of Assisi then St Johns in Lemsford. A swift 15 min cycle along main road (I am no stranger to this as regularly participate in Time Trials on busy dual carriage ways e.g. A1, A11 (Newmarket) and A41 (Tring)) and I was in Wheathampstead, St Thomas More and St Helens churches completed my 1st sponsor form of churches, 36 completed but it was 4:30 pm and I needed to get a move on. Next stop Harpenden. Like Hitchin there are large number of churches in relatively small area however on a Saturday afternoon with both a Fairground in full swing and Tent/sleeping bag collection occurring for Calais it was incredibly busy. Southdown Methodist, St Johns, Quaker MH, Salvation Army, St Nicholas, Our Lady of Lourdes, URC, Christchurch Evangelica, Methodist Church, All Saints (who couldn't believe the number of churches - 46 at that point I had visited) and Batford Methodist completed the Harpenden 10. I was on my final stretch home.
Picture 2: Not the bike or dress used for Bike'n'Hike but you get the idea ........(it is actually me though)
The final 3 churches were en route and an added bonus. Although outside of the 10 am - 6 pm timeline I was sure nobody would mid as these are only 'suggested timelines' for the manning. St Peters at Gustardwood, Peter and Paul at Kimpton and St Peters at St Pauls Walden completed the 50 and I finally fell in the front door at 7 pm. I soon realised I was very dehydrated, calorie deprived and hadn't had a nature break ALL DAY!!!!! but I was very happy with my efforts and gleefully accepted the £50 (£1/church) from Jason and £2.50 (5p/church) from Ethan. Although it may not seem much this was almost 3 weeks pocket money from Ethan so I was very proud of him for being so generous.
In total I raised £296.27 of which £148.14 will come directly back to St Ippolyts Church. So a massive THANK YOU to all that sponsored me. As a keen (some may say fanatical) cyclist and Treasurer to St Ippolyts Church I was proud to be part of this event. 50 churches and 87 miles covered, 4,291 ft climbed, average heart rate 136 b.p.m. (174 b.p.m. max) when climbing those hills!) and average speed of 13 mph ... not very fast but that did include pushing the bike into church grounds. As if I hadn't done enough mileage I went out the following morning for a brisk 42 mile cycle with my club (Hitchin Nomads) however I do confess that I ached on the Monday morning!