"You are the most colourful congregation I have all year!" - Revd Liz Hassall
I rode down to Coxwold for the 89th Annual Church Service, organised by the CTC with St Michael's Church. This service has been held annually since 1927, and is an opportunity to remember those cyclists who served in both world wars, such as the Army Cyclist Corps. It is also an occasion of joyful reunion between cyclists from all over the northeast; a happy time of thanksgiving and of dedication to God, the father of us all.
With it being held on a Sunday (10th May), I felt comfortable hitting the straight route down there. A167, A168, A19 and a final 3 miles of country lanes to Coxwold... then coming back the same way. It was quiet with only light traffic and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey down. I made it to Northallerton in 2hrs 25mins and stopped to refill my water bottles. Then on to Thirsk and finally to Coxwold in 3hrs 30mins; 50 miles.
Having left at 8:30am I was just in time for the pre-service cafe at 12 noon. I spotted Gerry Boswell of VC167 and joined his table for a chat. There were sandwiches, quiche, pies and cake provided... all very nice and the room was full of the chatter of friends reunited.
At 1:30pm we gathered in St. Michael's church and had a 45 minute service of singing, Bible reading, prayer and a sermon from Revd Norma Johnson of CTC North Yorkshire. The gentleman sat next to me remarked that it used to be standing room only at these services, but that numbers were dwindling and the only people who come now are getting older. I thought it was a testimony to how good for fitness cycling can be; as I looked around at very healthy looking people who'd all ridden here.
Norma has been riding for 6 years and is a tandem stoker; she preached on the two most important commandments; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." and "Love you neighbour as yourself."
During our intercessions we prayed; "Almighty God, give to us and to all who use the roads the spirit of courtesy and goodwill, of carefulness and self control; that by our thought for others, we may be preserved from needless danger and sudden death, and may live to glorify thee in our goings out and our comings in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."
After the service I just headed straight back home the way I'd come and the morning's headwind from the south was now in my favour, pushing me back the 50 return miles in 2hrs 15mins. I completed my fastest ever 100 miles, at 17.5mph in 5hrs 44mins, except for the allowance of 2 hours at church.
I hope this service continues, but if it isn't to dwindle away then the CTC and St. Michael's church will need to reach out to those beyond the regular attendees. There were once many Cyclists' Services all over the country. I think there are now only two.