Tag Archives: Methodism

A very Methodist Pilgrimage progress update

Latest news always at Epworth Rides.

There is lots of progress to share about our very Methodist Pilgrimage in May this year. So some reminders:

A Methodist Cycling Pilgrimage

from Leicester to the Epworth Old Rectory

165 miles over a three day May Bank Holiday weekend

24th, 25th and 26th May 2014


  • A beautiful bike ride over three days, with lovely people, through stunning Leicestershire countryside and flat as a pancake Lincolnshire.
  • Two nights camping (option to upgrade to a B&B). Both nights at the same site so you only pitch your tent once. Site has good shower and toilet facilities and electricity for all your gadgets.
  • A support team to carry all your luggage, rescue you if needed and cook breakfast 🙂
  • Guided tour of Epworth Old Rectory home of the Wesleys, founders of Methodism.
  • A chance to visit Epworth Parish Church where John Wesley preached standing on his Father’s grave.
  • Special celebration worship at Wesley Memorial Church, Epworth

Everyone is welcome to cycle with us and we have a variety of flexible route options to suit varying preferences.

The “Main” Ride is as follows:

Grand Total 165 miles

Route maps are already available and are on both Garmin Connect and Strava. Printed route cue sheets will also be available.


If 165 miles over three days seems a little too far for you, then there are plenty of options for you to reduce it to what suits you:

Option A: On either or both Saturday and Monday use the train between Syston and Newark-on-Trent. This saves 36 miles cycling each time you take the train. That reduces the ride to only 26 very flat miles (23 if staying at the B&B). You don’t need to decide this ahead of time as the route passes very close to the station at Newark-on-Trent, the trains are hourly and you don’t have to book to take your bike on the train.

Option B: On the Sunday the support team will be driving from the campsite to Epworth. That means you can choose to not cycle or cycle only one way (you choose). You could ride to Epworth in the morning (21 miles or 24 if staying at the B&B) and decide later if you are going to cycle back or get a lift. Or have a lazy morning with the option of cycling back if you feel like it.

Option C: We can provide a small number of people with transport all the way to or from the campsite on Saturday/Monday giving you the chance to simply join the Sunday ride to/from Epworth (21 miles each way or 24 miles if staying at the B&B).

Option D: the Our support team will be able to pick up a number of cyclists and their bikes at nearly any point if you find the distance is too great or have a mechanical problem that we can’t fix.

Getting to Syston for the start.

Option A: Drive to Syston with your bike and park your car for the weekend in the driveway of one of our Church Members (optionally arrive Friday night and we will find someone to put you up).

Option B: Arrive at Syston by train. Hourly service from Leicester or from stations up to Nottingham. No bike booking needed on this local line. Again if it is easier to arrive on Friday night we can find somewhere for you to stay.

Option C: Arrive at Leicester by train either on Friday evening or Saturday morning. We will arrange a guide to cycle with you from Leicester to Syston (7.3 miles). The guide will have a cargobike to help with your luggage. If you arrive on Friday then we will find accommodation for you.

Essentially all the same options (in reverse) are available for getting home from Syston at the end.


We will provide, at no cost to you:

  • Accommodation with a Church member on Friday evening.
  • Parking in a Church members driveway for the weekend, if needed
  • Coffee/Tea and Cake before we start on Saturday
  • Breakfast on Sunday and Monday for the campers
  • Coffee/Tea and Cake at the end on Monday
  • Support vehicle to rescue you if needed
  • Refuelling points on each ride, maximum 15 miles apart

You will need to pay for:

  • Getting to/from Syston
  • All train fares
  • Campsite or B&B costs
  • Evening meals Saturday and Sunday (two local pubs or cook for yourself at the campsite)
  • Cafe stops while cycling (very limited options on Saturday and Monday)


All riders need to be sponsored. 50% of the money raised is to go to the Epworth Old Rectory. The other 50% to go to a charity chosen by the rider (although we encourage all to consider giving to the Syston Methodist Church Community Hub project which will allow us to open a Youth Cafe).

We will provide sponsor forms and will sign off completion of the ride. We expect all riders to raise a minimum of £100 in sponsorship. We have an account on VirginGiving to allow you to raise your sponsorship through the Internet.

Any questions?


Methodist Pilgrimage Confirmation Update

A quick update on the Methodist Pilgrimage 2014.

It is a Sponsored Cycle Ride from Leicester to Epworth Old Rectory and back. We start on Saturday 24th May and end on Monday 26th May.

The pieces are falling into place so we now have a set of confirmations:

  • Methodist Insurance have confirmed insurance cover is possible
  • The Old Epworth Rectory have confirmed they will welcome us and we will have guided tours on the Sunday
  • Epworth Wesley Memorial Church have confirmed they will welcome us. We will have some worship here on the Sunday
  • A shorter ride is possible on Saturday and Monday for those who prefer it (using the train between Leicester and Newark then cycle)
  • Syston Methodist Church are organising a Coach party to join us in Epworth, leaving after Sunday morning worship
  • Either camping or B&B accommodation are available near Church Laneham for Saturday and Sunday Nights.

So the cycling distances are

Standard Route (158 miles in total)

  • Saturday 24th: Syston Methodist Church to Church Laneham: 58 miles
  • Sunday 25th: Church Laneham to Epworth and back: 42 miles (2 x 21 miles)
  • Monday 26th: Church Laneham to Syston Methodist Church: 58 miles

Long Route (174 miles in total)

  • As the standard route but start and finish at Leicester Railway Station adding 8 miles to/from Syston on Saturday and Monday
  • Anyone arriving/departing Leicester Railway station can, if preferred, use the train to Syston on Saturday and get a lift to Leicester Railway Station from Syston on Monday so still ride the standard route.

Short Route (100 miles in total)

  • Saturday 24th: Train Leicester or Syston to Newark. Then cycle to Church Laneham: 25 miles
  • Sunday 25th: Church Laneham to Epworth and back: 42 miles (2 x 21 miles)
  • Monday 26th: Church Laneham to Newark: 25 miles then train to Leicester (potential cycle or lift back to Syston 8 miles)

Obviously many other combinations are possible. The only restriction is that there is no train service that stops at Syston on the Monday.

We will have a support crew in a car who will be able to pick up a number of cyclists and their bikes on any of the rides.

For more details see my earlier posts Methodist Pilgrimage 2014 update 1 and A very Methodist Challenge for 2014



More conclusive proof on speed.

Tonight, Jane and I left Birstall Methodist Church at the same time to come home in Syston.

We had gone separately as she was their for the whole of STYG (our Methodist Circuit Youth Group) which started at 7pm, I cycled over after my evening service at Syston and got there for about 8pm.

As I pulled out of the Church car park Jane was just reversing out of her parking space. On the road to Wanlip she overtook me, but then had to navigate the odd junction to get onto the A46 while I used the (very poorly implemented) cycle track running contraflow alongside the A46.

Despite being held up by some drivers (1 didn’t know how wide their car was, another didn’t know they had priority at a roundabout) I was home with my bike parked before they drew up into the drive.

If you want to be slow over short journeys (this is just over 3 miles) then use a car.

Oh and yes I was in normal work clothes (trousers, clerical shirt, hoodie) and didn’t need to change when I got home.



#bullitt #cargobike for Guitar Hero

This week the Methodist Church in Birstall has been open for a whole range of events leading towards Easter. This afternoon and evening it was time for Wii Games.

So my Bullitt Clockwork got to carry a fair bit of stuff:

If I remember correctly the load included:

  • 3 data projectors
  • 1 x 30 watt Roland Cube Guitar Amp
  • 1 x PC 3 speaker set (with big bass speaker)
  • 2 x iPod dock speakers
  • 2 x Wii
  • 3 x reel power extension cables
  • 2 x 5 way extension cables
  • 1 x Guitar Hero (drums, 2 guitars, mike)
  • 1 x projection screen
  • 1 x cycling magazine but I never got a chance to read it 🙁
  • lots of assorted sound and video cables
  • U-Lock
Here in close-up, you can see how elegantly everything was packed for the 3 mile trip. The route starts in Syston, goes thru Thurmaston, across Watermead park using a bridleway, board walk and two bridges over the river/canal. So quite varied. The only tricky bit is when riding on narrow paths between railings as the projector screen was not centred and so made the load quite wide.
Still there were no problems in either direction.
Of course as usual one of the advantages of a cargobike is being able to unload (and then load up afterwards) it right where the stuff is needed, ie in the middle of the Church 🙂

Taking the 100 mile plunge

Oh dear, I am now committed to my first ride of more than 100 miles in a day.

I am due at the Royal Holloway College by lunchtime on Saturday 9th April for a Methodist Council meeting. To reduce time pressure I have booked myself in a reasonably close Travelodge for the Friday night. That leaves me something over 100 miles to ride on the Friday (my day off) to get to the Travelodge and hopefully only around 10 miles on Saturday morning to get to the meeting.

The meeting finishes at lunchtime on Monday, so I’ll ride directly home which should mean arriving home in the middle of the night 🙂

One of the challenges is going to be whether I can carry everything on my Trek Road Bike. For the meeting I will take a netbook instead of my laptop, but the meeting papers are heavy and bulky (1.5kg of A4 paper). I have in the past broken spokes by overloading this bike, although I am now 10kg lighter myself.

To help balance the load I would like to fit my handlebar bag (normally used in my full suspension mountain bike). But I have not yet worked out how to combine that with front lights.

The alternative is to go on the Bullitt Cargobike, it has a number of advantages such as the lighting, cargo capacity and reliability. However, it is also slower and it is possible that I would meet hills that would defeat me.

Another challenge is routing. I am not completely happy with the automatic routing options on either my Garm 705 or Android phone. So far the alternative is creating the route ahead of time probably using Google maps. But that means finding a way to use a saved Google route on my Htc Desire Android phone (and massively extend it’s battery life).

Still that gives me some things to think about over the next few days 🙂


Multi-mode travel

This morning I had a very good journey to London for the 2 day Methodist Council meeting.

It was a 6.8 mile ride to Leicester Station on the Birdy (average speed 11.5mph). With an hourly train service from Syston and the time of my London train this made riding the Birdy quicker than catching the train. I took my time folding it and put inside it’s neat cover and it fitted fine in the luggage rack.

Given the impossibility of being sure that you can fit an ordinary bike on the train this was a good solution.

I also had plenty of time at St Pancras so after unfolding the bike I was able to ride it along the empty platform and then found a nice back street route to Methodist Church House rather than simply riding along Euston Road as I have done in the past. With one slight diversion due to an unexpected one way street it was only 2.7 miles (average 10.5mph).

Overnight I have left it securely at Methodist Church house as they had arranged transport to and from the hotel.

Tomorrow I can reverse the journey.

Would I do it everyday? H’mm, I think I would probably swap for a Brompton to get that quicker and smaller fold to make the train bit easier. On the other hand with it’s full suspension the Birdy copes really well with the rollercoaster sections of the Cycle path alongside the Melton Road and between the Abbey Pump Station and Abbey Park. It yet again confirmed for me that despite a really comfy rucsac that it is much better to have the load carried by the bike. Unless things have changed a lot with the new Birdy the Brompton has advantages in this area with big front bags and a rack that is part of the normal fold.

Better still though would be either lots more bookable space for normal bikes on the train or excellent secure storage at Leicester as I could have easily used a Boris bike at the London end (even if not quite with the door to door convenience).


Breaking your own rules

Today I broke one of my own rules for making cycling the normal thing to do. I went out on a ride for work in very cycle specific clothing.

There were two reasons for this

  1. It was raining very hard, it had been doing so for hours and it was expected to continue for hours. It was also very windy.
  2. The trip out was to take a funeral service at Loughborough Crematorium.

Cultures will vary in what they expect, however, in my culture if a Methodist Minister is taking a funeral service for you then you will have expectations about what they will wear. Many ministers will wear a cassock and that has advantages in weather like this as you can take it in a waterproof bag and put it over the top of almost anything. However, I come from a “low” Church tradition and so don’t wear a cassock. So instead for me a funeral means a clerical shirt, suit and preaching gown.

Maybe it is just because I don’t have good enough waterproofs but I can’t imagine cycling 9 miles in heavy rain with big puddles across the road in a nice suit and shoes. Even if they survived I would be worrying about it all the way and it would hardly be conducive to an appropriate frame of mind for conducting a funeral.

Of course a Bullitt Cargo bike is excellent for carrying the full set of clothes and a towel plus the books etc that aere needed. I could have easily managed with panniers but not knowing how hilly the route was decided that the Bullitt was a wiser choice then my fixie which is my only other bike with full mudguards.

Anyway it all went smoothly, had a nice ride there arriving with time to get dry and change. Coming home I had the wind against me and it felt like a bit of a slog so I stopped at a nice farm tea shop in Mountsorrell for some lunch 🙂 That helped a lot and so my elapsed cycling time was under 1hr 30mins for 18 miles.

Seems to me that there are times when rules need to be broken and for my peace of mind cycling to a funeral is one time when I feel that changing on arrival makes sense.

Sadly funerals are also one time when it is frequently not possible to cycle. For example on Friday I have a funeral which starts with a service at the Methodist Church in Syston and then continues at the Crematorium in Loughborough. The way the timing of these is done leaves no time to cycle between the two and I would feel very uncomfortable trying to push timing that lets me cycle on the families. However, I recognise that this is an artefact of a society and culture that is centred around an assumption of universal access to cars. Normally I would want to challenge that assumption, however, for me a funeral is absolutely not the right time to do so.


Syston Methodist Church to Rearsby Convent

Yesterday I rode to Rearsby Convent for the first time. Lovely place and lovely people making a great setting for as quiet day.

As always a day that is made better by being gently woken up and refreshed by a nice ride to get there.

The ride includes one of the best stretches of Cycle facility around here.

Starting at Syston Methodist Church you follow several minor roads (with a cut through between two estates) that are marked as a safer route to school. I don’t like the nomenclature and sadly the people living in these residential streets seem to take no notice of these markings.

However, when you reach the Melton Road there is a wide dual use pavement that goes as far as East Goscote and which includes an underpass under the A607. This is generally a good cycle facility by British standards. However, there are still problems.

  • it does not include marked priority for cycles when it crosses New Zealand Lane. There should be a hump for cars to enter/leave this side road with marked priority for cyclists & pedestrians.
  • The bridge over the stream when you come into East Goscote is too narrow for two way traffic especially when it is combined pedestrian and cyclist.
  • As with all cycle facilities in this country the ends are a problem. There is too little thought put into where cyclists should go next. This is particularly obvious when coming into Syston from East Goscote and wanting to go straight into the town centre. It is not clear that the pavement after Parkstone Road is no longer a shared use path, there is no cycling facility from this point and you are abandoned on the wrong side of the Melon Road.

We had come back from our half term holiday (yes Leicestershire has school holidays at a different time to everyone else) on Friday evening so that I could go to this circuit quiet day yesterday. Very glad we did as it was a really good day.


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