Saturday 17th September was a glorious autumn morning – bright, sunny and pleasantly warm, but with a gentle breeze – in fact, perfect weather for the first ever Tour de Chiddingly cycle event. Co-organisers Mark Valleley and Will Rennison had been out the evening before, marking out the deeper potholes, sweeping away areas of loose gravel and putting up signs for the routes (co-designed with Mike Goss). The registration desk was set up, with Greening Chiddingly group members Sheryl Rennison and Tina Letanka ready to welcome the first eager participants. In short, we were good to go.
The first cyclists started to arrive at 10:30 and by 11:00 the Village Shop car park was a sea of bikes, hi-vis jackets and cycle helmets. In all, 50 riders had signed up for the event, ranging in age from 5 to (at least) 65. Judging by the amount of lycra on display, some were very experienced cyclists, while others had clearly only just unearthed their bikes from the back of the shed.
At 11:15, David Nash, Chair of Greening Chiddingly, gave a short welcome, reminding everyone why the event had been organised – to encourage community members to see cycling as their first-choice mode of transport for short journeys. After that, Will gave a short safety briefing. The assembled cyclists were then split into two groups, the more experienced riders following a 6-mile route and a smaller group following a 3-mile route. Both groups had an allocated cyclist at the front and back to act as pacemaker and rear-guard trouble-shooter respectively.
Cyclists on the longer route set off at around 11:20. Turning right out of the car park, the peloton made its way up Scrapers Hill and along Smithlands Lane, Stalkers Lane and Ailies Lane before returning through Chiddingly to Muddles Green. The shorter route headed off about 5 minutes later, also following Scrapers Hill and Smithlands Lane but turning left down Honeywick Lane and Parsonage Lane before arriving back in Chiddingly. Everyone got back safely, although some cyclists following the shorter route took a little longer than expected owing, ironically, to a dodgy battery on an electric bike.
The end of the ride dove-tailed perfectly with the start of the 10th anniversary celebrations for the Village Shop. This included an al fresco barbecue – what better way to undo all the good work of a bike ride than a burger or hot dog? All in all, it was a lovely day, with many people saying how much they’d enjoyed themselves. Thanks to Mike, in particular, who was integral to planning and organising the event but couldn't take part on the day. Roll on next year and the Tour de Chiddingly 2023!
If you took part in the Tour de Chiddingly, we’d love to hear what you thought of the event. Were the routes the right length or would you prefer a longer ride? Is there anything we can do to improve the experience? Would you take part again?