Ride and Stride 2019 – A Pilgrim’s Progress

A personal reflection by Nick Perry

The day dawned bright and sunny with no more than a gentle breeze – perfect conditions for setting out on a cycle pilgrimage around the churches of Nottinghamshire.

My original intention was to visit 20-30 churches in and around the parish of Wiverton in the Vale and, having ticked off Colston Bassett, Langar, Barnstone, Granby and Elton, I crossed the A52 into the territory of the Cranmer Group. Onwards, via Sibthorpe, into Fosse Group country then back across the A46 to complete the Cranmer collection, and on to Bingham for lunch.

Spot the difference!

Whilst eating my sandwich on a bench outside St Mary and All Saints, I got chatting to a lady who was passing the time whilst her daughter was at a dance class. I mentioned OneLIFE and the ‘Bishops from the North’ and she told me the story her son had related about a visit to his school the previous day by Reverend Jon and the Prime Minister of Belgium! After doing some research into the matter, she later discovered it had actually been the Bishop of Bolton! As we went our separate ways, she very kindly offered to sponsor me on the ride.

I returned onto home ground through Tythby, Cropwell Butler and Cropwell Bishop, before heading on to Cotgrave which provided rich pickings with Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches. I had planned to return home via Owthorpe but still felt fresh and ploughed on through Tollerton. At Plumtree, I found a church full of people enjoying afternoon tea with Bishop Alison. I think she regretted offering me a handshake, having not weighed up the likely effects on my palms of cycling 40-odd miles to that point! The climb up to Keyworth paid dividends with Baptist, URC, Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches all in the village. One last uphill section to Stanton on the Wolds and then it was all downhill via Kinoulton and Owthorpe back to Colston Bassett, finally ticking off my 41st church of the day.

Many of the churches were offering drinks, cakes and biscuits but (unusually for me!) I resisted most of the offerings in order to leave some room for the feast at the Colston Bassett OneLIFE Barbecue in the evening. After a quick shower, I made my way there and was complimented by Bishop Alison on having ‘scrubbed up well’! She gave a short down-to-earth talk about the way in which Christ regularly ate and partied in the community and how that laid down a challenge to us all to witness to our own neighbourhoods by meeting people where they are.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and hope to have raised £500-600, to be shared equally between Notts Historic Churches Trust and my own church of St John the Divine. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who sponsored me. If anyone would like to make a donation after the event, you can donate online at JustGiving or catch me personally round and about.

I am already thinking about alternative routes for next year. If anyone would like to join me, I would be very happy with the company and can assure you of a Grand Day Out.