What an absolutely amazing day: as the Organiser of the Minster Mission Audax I was in the wonderful position of bringing together two communities which rarely meet. Churches are full of people who have deep resources of generosity, a heart for hospitality and a love of sharing – especially sharing cake! Cyclists devour cake and are often interested in cycling to beautiful places. The Minster Mission Audax was a long distance cycling event which started at Howden Minster and took riders to every church in the Howden Deanery – that’s 17 churches in beautiful countryside.
My day was divided into setting riders off – taking photographs around the route – and welcoming them back to Howden Minster. However, I couldn’t have made the event work without the generous help of the churches around the Deanery.
The team at Howden Minster were wonderful, providing hot drinks at the start and copious amounts of cake and drinks at the end. The first riders back to the Minster had completed this 100km event in just over 4 hours, and the last riders back took 6 hours 30 minutes; during the intervening time I watched the volunteers from the church and the happily-tired riders mixing and chatting about the event, route and the church buildings they’d visited.
I know that many of the 17 churches were open and that refreshments had been made available to riders. Several riders actually stopped at each of the churches and had a look around inside. At Newbold, Tony and Elsie were there with one of Tony’s many “High Wheel” bicycles, and I think Elsie had ridden one of her Humber bicycles.
I cycled up Trundlegate and found myself somewhere comfortable to wait and capture the suffering of cyclists tackling this deceptively long climb.
At the two-thirds mark, St Helen’s Church in Welton was open and many of my own community were doing their very best to feed and welcome riders. One of my friends commented, “For skinny cyclists, they really can devour cake! Where do they put it all!” In Blacktoft the church hall was open with more refreshments and a stamp for riders to check their Brevet Card.
76 people entered the ride, 70 signed on at the start, 66 completed the event successfully. Of the 4 who didn’t make it to the end, 1 abandoned, 1 hadn’t done anything with his Brevet Card, and 2 got to the finish but left without giving me their Brevet Cards. Out of the 76 entrants, a quarter of them were women, half of them were new to long distance cycling, and a third of them were from the Howden Deanery and surrounding area. A lot of riders cycled to the start and some of them extended the event to 200km by riding the extra distances.
From a cycling / audax perspective this was a resounding success – a nice sized group of riders who seemed to really enjoy the route and the cakes – with almost everyone completing the event.
From a church perspective it was brilliant: we opened our doors to a whole group of people who are usually cycling away from us on a Sunday, we gave generously of our time and hospitality, we listened to rider’s stories and shared in their joy and enthusiasm. This is Christian Mission at the fuzziest of fuzzy edges of church.