There's a bit of a tradition running at the moment in Ingleby Barwick Wheeler's & Friends Cycling Club, for several years as we get to the 4th of July we do a ride around all the churches in the Stokesley Deanery. This year we advertised the fact among all the other churches and suggested we create a "Deanery Day". The idea being to help all the parishes feel part of their wider community. So whatever each church was doing was done in the context of the broader community.
Our route takes us out of Ingleby Barwick and on a wiggly path to visit churches at (in order of visiting), Hilton, Middleton-in-Leven, Seamer, Stainton, Hemlington, Brookfields, Nunthorpe, Newton-under-Roseberry, Great Ayton, Stokesley, Kirkby-in-Cleveland, Ingleby Greenhow, Kildale, Chop Gate, Carlton, Faceby, Swainby, Potto, Hutton Rudby, Crathorne, Kirklevington, Worsall and Yarm - before finishing back at Ingleby Barwick. And the route profile looks a little like a fried bat.
The two main climbs are Clay Bank and Raisdale.
Although it was slightly foggy at the start, the forecast was much more optimistic than it had been earlier in the week, we were now expecting sunshine. I don't know if the promise of sunshine helped, but eight of us turned up to ride.
Can you see us through the mist?
The day did brighten up and nothing was going to dampen our spirits. After the C2C2C we were all feeling really strong and that led to this being one of the easiest rides we've done together. But it was the togetherness that made this ride special. We talked almost solidly for the ride, chatting about how easy cycling is, what we've achieved this year and what we might achieve next year.
We stopped regularly of course, about every 5 miles as we reached each church. I was charged with taking a postcard greeting from the community of St Francis of Assisi into each church building and trying to hand it to someone or pin it to a notice board - not always easy.
At many of the churches there were activities and it was nice to be welcomed with "Oh, you're the cyclists we've been expecting!" There was a big outdoor festival in Hemlington with music and food. In the photo below we crashed our first wedding of the day - in Nunthorpe.
Ingleby Greenhow had an open day and many more people had come along than previously expected according to the couple I spoke to inside. At Stokesley we were treated to a wonderful cafe - great cake for those who wanted it and super coffee too. There was live music as well.
Clay had to leave us here as there were activities he needed to support back at St Francis of Assisi church, such as the Cream Tea afternoon. Our matching "Green Eggs and Ham" tops were getting a second outing - and very visible they were too!
Eventually we found the big climb of the day at Clay Bank. Everyone did really well, almost everyone making the climb in one go. We needed a breather at the top.
The climb from Chop Gate to St Hilda's Church was tough and I felt photographic evidence of our presence was required.
And after Chop Gate, the long climb up Raisdale followed by the steep, gravel strewn, wet descent with cattle grids for good measure. Not everyone is as fond of this descent as I. Jonathan and Stephen were the first to take on the brake-block-melting section.
But we were rewarded with a lunch stop at the Blackwell Ox Inn in Carlton. Ruth and Carol had taken a leisurely ride out to meet us and it was really good to see them. We shared chips, ham rolls, beer and possibly more beer!
(Stephen and Carol)
(Mark, Adam, Ruth, Jonathan and Stephen)
(My wonderful wife, Carol, and I)
Leaving Carlton we were well over half way and it was just after lunchtime. We were expecting the ford at Faceby to be flooded but were pleased to find it dry. The last few churches were ahead of us and we all felt fresh and fit. Someone joked that Adam had finally trained for a ride, even if his training had been the C2C2C. More churches and more noticeboards followed... we were nearly there...
Then finally came the really silly event of the day... we arrived at Worsall just as a wedding had finished. Obviously the photos were still being taken and we didn't want to spoil them. The guys waited by the gate while I tried to sneak past and say hello to the Revd Pam Sanders who'd just finished marrying the happy couple.
As I left I was making my way through the milling crowd of happy guests, when they all turned and started walking out too. Oh no. I was now in the middle of the wedding party, dressed in a Green Eggs and Ham lycra top, with my sunglasses poking out of the vents in my cycling helmet. And there were photos being taken of the happy hordes. Darn it. I was right in the middle spoiling all the photos. The shame.
There was a nice moment on the way out. A couple asked where I had bought the Trek Gilet I was wearing. They work for Trek and wondered which store I'd visited... "The one at the top of Alp d'Huez" I replied. Big grin.
A last blast took us to Yarm where we nearly broke the notice board. Dave told us a bit too late that no-one uses that particular board, but Adam and I think we managed to fix things! We also spotted Revd John Ford.
We set off for the final climb of Leven Bank to get to the Fox Covert for more beer, to rest our legs and to generally feel really good about the day out we'd had. Thanks to everyone who took part, Adam, Clay, Dave, Stephen, Jonathan P, Jonathan T, Mark and to Ruth and Carol for meeting us. Thanks to all the churches that were running Deanery Day events and welcomed us so warmly.
Labels: church, cycling journeys, Deanery Day, Halo Velo