Michael Moore, Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Peterborough, got on his exercise bike in August for a fundraising challenge. Here is his story of just how hard it was…
Each year St Mary’s Church chooses a specific local charity to support, and this year it chose Peterborough Foodbank. As a result, a fundraising garden party is held at St Mary’s Vicarage every summer. However, this year, my wife Sue and I could not, as we usually do, fill people full of cakes and gently (and reverently) extract money from you! So instead, in a heat of madness, I said, “I will cycle to Land’s End on my exercise bike”.
The distance from Peterborough to Land’s End was 374 miles and I divided this into seven days – thus 54 miles per day.
Notionally, I fixed a place in my mind where I would like to aim for each day – the places were Newport Pagnell, Swindon, Bristol, Taunton, Chagford, Bodmin and Land’s End.
I knew that it would take about four to five hours a day so I would have to fit my normal work around it all.
The first thing was to split the day into three sessions, and then each session into three-mile stints. I would set off, do the first three miles then stop, walk around the bedroom where the bike is, then walk downstairs and go back up again. I found this would allow the blood to find the numb areas, so as to refresh them before getting straight back on to the bike.
Boredom soon came into play. I kept looking at the speedometer and, as it seemed to slow down, I tried to amuse myself by looking out of the window. This did not work. So I said morning prayer, midday prayer and evening prayer whilst peddling.
As I got more proficient, I started to send emails whilst peddling and making phone calls. Who says men cannot multi-task?!
After day two, soreness started to be a problem. One church member told me to have a bath when I finished each night. That sounded good advice, but I was so tired after the last session I had a job to get out of the bath! One other member told me to put two banana skins in my shorts so as to ease things along. I did not do this because I didn’t want any slip-ups!
So I motored on and prayed as I went along, knowing that God would get me through it because He always has and always will. All I kept thinking of on day four was those people losing their jobs once furlough ends and being short of food. Jesus explicitly tells us to feed the hungry, so I kept on.
When not praying, I listened to two documentaries about the Falklands War – it was really interesting because they had accounts from both sides. I remember the war very clearly and how I was involved – I was working in a foundry at the time and we worked 18 hours a day for two weeks to make spare parts for the troops’ vehicles as they steamed down to the islands. When you hear these real-life stories, you are very grateful for what you have.
After a week of cycling, I finally ‘arrived’ at Land’s End on the Friday night at 7pm and was sorely glad to have done it!
I was glad too that I have not (so far) had to fight in a war.
I was glad that I had raised some money for the Peterborough Foodbank and for the Church.
And I was really glad that I did not have to sit on a bike the following day!