Ben Findlay, Geoff Beetham and Ryan Henry set out on September 9,to visit all of Rutland’s 64 churches
This is their story on a very up and down day.
Our route started in the sunshine at St Peter’s church in Belton at 9am; it was chilly but after riding up the A47 and visiting the first couple of churches we warmed quickly, writes Ben Findlay.
It was a pleasant surprise that a few of the churches we visited before the official start time of 10am were manned.
A nice tailwind was enjoyed most of the journey east to Tixover, where upon we headed back west, ‘under’ Rutland Water to Ridlington.
Then the rain started; capes and gilets were put on as we encountered our first rain shower of the day.
Our route was designed such that we tackled the majority of the elevation changes in the first half of the day, which proved to be wise as undertaking that with the weather we experienced in the later half, would have been very tough.
After another rain shower or two, we reached Oakham and after nipping round the eight churches in the town, we stopped for half an hour for a few cheese sandwiches and a cup of coffee to fuel us on for the afternoon.
The second half of the ride took us out to Langham then across to Empingham on the now very wet road.
A rain shower or two and some stiff head winds made the westward leg back to Whissendine a little challenging, but we were able to pick up a nice tailwind as we ticked off Market Overton, Thistleton and Stretton.
We were, at this point, still unsure if we would make it to Ketton (our last stop) before 6pm as the churches were more spread out at this stage.
At some point between Clipsham and Pickworth, it was clear the weather was not done with us yet as the sky dramatically became blue/black and was accompanied by loud claps of thunder.
Sometime before we got to Essendine it began...heavy rain, which drastically reduced our visibility.
We arrived at Great Casterton to more thunder and lightning, but we now believed we should get to our final destination by 6ish.
We safely negotiated the temporary lake on the road outside the church at Tickencote and encountered more rain.
Riding up the aptly named ‘Water Lane’ from Casterton over the A1 to the A606 was like a scene from India, the road replaced by a brown river.
Once at Tickencote it was clear that we would not only make Ketton by 6pm but with 30 minutes to spare!
As we climbed off our bikes at the last stop we were warmly greeted and congratulated with the offer of Champagne!
Instead we chose a nice warm cup of coffee and a few biscuits, over which all three of us had a short time to reflect on the day’s proceedings whilst listening to a few facts from the Rev Andrew Rayment whose knowledge was very engaging.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stop long as we were getting cold and we had still to ride back to Oakham.
All three of us would like to thank the organiser Richard Foulkes and the other trustees of Rutland Historic Churches Preservation Trust and the over 300 volunteers for their hard work in organising and hosting a great event which, not only raises funds, but also encourages more people to get out and see more of this beautiful county and be more active.
Ride statistics: 64 churches, 189 kilometres (118 miles), 1,744m of climbing (5,722ft), 6 hours 29 minutes of riding, 29.1kmh (18.1mph) average speed. £320 raised so far.
If you wish to salute their achievement and contribute, please do, on Justgiving.com/fundraising/RyanGeoffBen