Stephen, Mark, Graeme, Gary, Jonathan, Adam - setting off.
The Halo Velo is a bicycle ride around all the churches in the Stokesley Deanery, in one day. We stop at each church buildings to pray for the church and the community which worships there, this is intended to help remember that our parish is one part of something bigger. At the same time we want to let remote rural parishes know that they are in our thoughts and prayers. So we have double sided prayer 'postcards' printed up which we can pin to the notice boards, leave in the visitors book and slide into convenient cracks in the church doors when all else fails.
It is especially nice when we come across the church community busy doing it's own thing. For example, in Brookfield we met the Men's Breakfast crew... which did make it very hard to cycle further. The smell of bacon was really tempting. In Hemlington we met with the vicar on his doorstep coming out to open the church building to support the local people; and in previous years we have been fortunate to meet them having a street party.
Stephen's GPS track - the Halo Velo may have to be renamed the Fried Bat
The ride itself set off at 7:30am, heading out of Ingleby Barwick on empty roads. Most of us have done this ride before, but for Gary it was his first journey longer than his regular commute to work. As he normally commutes 7 miles, we thought that this 75 mile circular ride might be a bit challenging. It turned out that Gary not only has the Sky kit, he also has the physique of Froome too - we were finding that Gary is a strong cyclist who was more than capable of riding this event.
Jonathan was not on top form though and after the cake we ate a Stokesley, it was time for him to head home to Darlington and he was missed for the rest of the ride. He did make the sensible choice of bailing out before the Clay Bank climb. In the sweltering heat we all found this extremely difficult.
Heroes made it to the top of Clay Bank
...and having made it to the top were treated to a group of two-wheelers from Hull who were making the ride seem much easier...
After the Clay Bank regrouping, we had a quick photoshoot and then blasted down the main road to Chop Gate where lunch was waiting at The Buck Inn
, and we were served by the Landlord who is an ex-racing cyclist and very much still an enthusiast. They are seeing growth in the numbers of cyclists coming through and stopping for food and drink. It helps that they are open long hours during the day.
We are cycling in the Moors again and had the sunshine and heat on our backs. We climbed Raisdale; spreading out as the road takes us by a series of steps to the top at Carlton Bank.
Jonathan number two, affectionately known as JvdP, joined us in Carlton for the rest of the ride and we had the last and fairly simple section to complete the day and end up back at St Francis Church in Ingleby Barwick where a wonderful BBQ waited for us.
During the day we visited the communities represented by the church buildings in each of the following towns and villages... in order of appearance:
Ingleby Barwick, Middleton-in-Leven, Seamer, Stainton, Brookfield, Hemlington, Nunthorpe, Newton-under-Roseberry, Great Ayton, Kildale, Ingleby Greenhow, Kirkby-in-Cleveland, Stokesley, Chop Gate, Carlton-in-Cleveland, Faceby, Swainby, Potto, Hutton Rudby, Crathorne, Kirklevington, Worsall and Yarm... and finished at our unofficial church; The Fox Covert.
Some of us arriving for a BBQ at church.
Thanks to Frances Roundtree for printing the double-sided prayer cards and organising a delicious BBQ celebration at the end. Thanks to Stephen, Mark, Gary, Adam, Jonathan and Jonathan for the company and for putting up with the random route in my head... yes, we did nearly miss Stokesley and were saved by others remembering they wanted cake!