Of helmets, shorts . . . and punctures

WHILE the elite riders of the toughest sport in the world sped through our county in exciting fashion, another fairly important cycling event was almost missed.

From the very young to the um, ah, fairly old, cyclists were out in force the day before for the annual Tour de Churches event.

With the sun beaming down on the stubble fields, and a slight breeze, it was perfect weather for being out on a bike and a pleasure to walk into the stillness and cool of village churches.

For the first time there was a change in my cycling habits, too – I was wearing a helmet, and it was noticed by many.

My new Bern helmet came to me courtesy of Mike Summer, of Moon’s Cycles in Norwich Road, Ipswich, after he read my column and decided I should not be cycling without one. Mike, who moved to Suffolk from Texas to take on the shop, invited me to choose one as a gift.

So how did I get on after all these years of the wind in my hair?

It was, I sheepishly admit, extremely comfortable and after a couple of miles I had forgotten I was wearing it. There was one hiccup when I accidentally left it at River of Life and had to beetle back for it! But it now a firm fixture in my cycling equipment.

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We visited 25 churches around Felixstowe, Walton, the Trimleys, Kirton and Falkenham, covering 16 miles at a leisurely pace.

I was King of the Mountains as I overtook son-the-elder Matthew climbing Peewit Hill, as much to my surprise as his.

For the most part the pair of us were happy to be the peloton, leaving Mrs C to lead – though she was eventually stopped by a puncture on the river wall at Felixstowe Ferry, just two churches from home and we had to leave her behind and organise a rescue mission.

Our only other problem on a fun day was Matthew splitting his shorts as we arrived at the first church. He kept us regularly briefed (if that’s the appropriate word) on his developing predicament as the shorts continued to shred.

A delight of the ride in aid of the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust is camaraderie between the cyclists and meeting up with old friends.

Among those taking part in Felixstowe were five-year-old Alfie, from the Salvation Army, with his dad, and at the other end of the age scale, Doug Hart, a veteran of the event, now 84, and doing just as many miles as ourselves. Terrific.

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