On your bike! Archdeacon's 500-mile cycle church tour

ARCHDEACONS have a cycle of visitations to parishes in their jurisdiction, traditionally dreaded by clergy and church councils responsible for stewardship of the parish souls and assets. But this summer, for the Venerable Hugh McCurdy, Archdeacon of Hun

ARCHDEACONS have a cycle of "visitations" to parishes in their jurisdiction, traditionally dreaded by clergy and church councils responsible for stewardship of the parish souls and assets.

But this summer, for the Venerable Hugh McCurdy, Archdeacon of Huntingdon and Wisbech, it is to be a cycle with a difference.

From his home in Ely, the archdeacon plans to ride to every one of the 180 Anglican churches on his patch, which covers the whole of north Cambridgeshire and parts of south Norfolk, to celebrate Ely Cathedral's 900 years at the heart of the Christian community.

His biggest worry, however, is not the strain on his legs of cycling 70 miles a day. It is the strain on his stomach of all the offers of sustenance along the way.

People are welcome to ride with him along his pilgrimage, he told The Hunts Post, but not to feed him.

"Some people think I'm completely mad. Others want to join in," said the 51-year-old economist and former Vicar of Histon, who has been archdeacon since 2005.

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But he is no stranger to long-distance cycling, having recently completed the coast-to-coast ride between Whitehaven in Cumbria and Whitby in north Yorkshire. "The fish and chips in Whitby were wonderful at the end of that ride but, if I accepted all the hospitality I've already been offered this time, I would have difficulty getting on the bike.

"In fact, the biggest thing is likely to be the wind. There are no real hills around here but, if the wind's against you, it's as hard as cycling uphill all the way in the Lake District or North York Moors."

The charity marathon, which he estimates at a total of between 400 and 500 miles, starts at Great Gidding on May 1 with a two-day tour of the Huntingdon deanery. He will visit 21 churches in west Hunts on May 1 and another 19 around Huntingdon the following day.

His biggest worry was whether he would have to cycle along the A14 between Ellington and Easton at a weary end of day two. But The Hunts Post was able to assure him that the local district councillor, Mike Baker, had negotiated a safe cycle route between the two villages with the farmer who owns the land.

A week later, on May 8, he will visit the 15 churches in the St Neots deanery, followed by a similar number in the St Ives deanery, north of the river, on June 12.

June 17 and 18 will see him in the 25 churches of the Wisbech Lynne Marshland deanery, followed by the Fincham and Feltwell deanery on June 24 and 25.

He returns to churches in Sawtry and surrounding villages on June 29, concluding with the March and Ely areas in a saddle-sore July.

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