Tag Archives: Cycling

Lessons from the Peleton


I nicked this from Bishop Lee Rayfield of Bristol diocese who draws a Christian message from road cycling. Some useful thoughts, but I’d never be a road cyclist and regard an average of 10 mph as good


Top of Jeffrey Hill, near Longridge, which has a section of 1 in 5 or 20%, which I cycle up each year along with other hills

Lessons from the Peloton

Bishop LeeIn this lighter summertime piece, Bishop Lee looks at the sport of road cycling to draw some parallels with what is expected of Christian disciples.

Those who know me well appreciate that two things are very close to my heart – road cycling and the Lord Jesus Christ. With the Tour de France still fresh in our minds and the Tour of Britain coming soon this seems a good moment to ask “What do professional road cyclists and Christian disciples have in common?” Here are a few thoughts with some Bible references for further reflection and exploration:

Teamwork – although some still believe that the 198 cyclists who line up for the Tour de France are all out to win the competition for themselves they are mistaken. It is all about the team working with and for one another. Being a follower of Jesus is not about a solo performance but working with others in the Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Gifting – the team contains cyclists who can maintain high speed on rolling terrain (rouleurs), sprinters who can ride for one hundred miles or more yet still finish the last 200m at over 40 mph, and climbers who can fly up steep hills or one mountain gradient after another. Every person’s gift is valued and honed for the good of the whole team (1 Corinthians 12: 12-31).

Serving – some cyclists spend their whole career as domestiques. They have no aspiration of winning; their role is to ensure that others – especially the lead rider – are protected, provided for, and given every opportunity to win either a stage or the overall race (Mark 10: 41-45).

One Leader – in any race, but particularly in a stage race such as the Tour de France, one person is the nominated leader in the overall competition. When there are two potential leaders, or occasionally even three, it usually spells trouble! For followers of Jesus it must never be about us but about Christ (1 Corinthians 3: 1-11).

Suffering – a word you will hear a lot among amateur road cyclists as well as professionals. Getting better as a cyclist does not abrogate suffering, rather it means learning how to bear it for longer. Road cyclists have to dig deep and learn to keep going when their body is telling them to stop, to give up (John 19: 23-27).

Sacrifice – on long mountain stages, the pace will get faster and faster as one member of the team after another rides on the front to provide cover for their leader and bear the brunt of the wind resistance. Team members sacrifice themselves by giving everything they have before dropping back totally spent and plummeting down the ranking (John 21: 18-19).

Courage – mountain descents and bunch sprints require tremendous nerve. Crashes during the madcap sprint are all too common, often ending in broken bones and smashed faces. Following the cyclists down mountains at speeds of up to 70 mph has caused journalists in their cars to be in tears because they have been so frightened. (Esther 7: 3-4).

Cheating – sadly professional road cycling, and even some amateur competitions, have been tainted by doping. From the very beginning of the sport there have been those who have taken drugs and other substances to improve their own chances. In the Lance Armstrong era doping was not only endemic but part of a culture of fear and corruption. (1 John 1: 5-2: 2).

Joy and Thanksgiving – at the end of each stage, and far more so at the conclusion of the entire race, the joy on the faces of the whole team and the gratitude that the winner expresses to his teammates is wonderful. In a competition such as the Tour de France the winnings are shared by the whole team (Romans 12: 9-21).

In penning this I want to conclude with two thoughts. First, men’s road racing is more familiar than women’s because of events such as the Tour de France, but each dimension above applies as much to women road cyclists as it does to men. (I chose Esther as an example of courage as a reminder of this). Unlike professional cycling, discipleship requires us to work in close partnership across gender, not in separate compartments.

Second, one of the reasons I find road cycling a powerful illustration for discipleship is because it says something I believe men need to hear about the nature of following Jesus Christ, namely that it is demanding, tough and deeply rewarding. My sense is that men need more help in recognizing these dimensions of the Christian life. Perhaps hanging a racing bike inside or outside the church might promote an interesting engagement around this by men and women?

August 2016

Fracking Fun by Pinnochio

Well. petroleum products are so ungreen and we can see how fossil-fuel dependent the bicycle is;


So cheers to fracking


Fracking will destroy our countryside and will make it look like this – The Jonah gasfiled in Wyoming


This is what our countryside will look like


Hold on a mo! Jonah is not fracking of shale but tight gas from sandstone done before fracking for shale. A big porkie. This picture is simply deceitful



Just one snag – these are caused by wastewater injection not fracking – and the earthquake damage is from the Far East.




Whoops. Walport never said anything like that . It was said by a leftie prof from Sussex and misquoted by Adam Vaughan in the porkie Graudain


Now here are lots of misrepresentations of the effect of fracking on our water. The graphics do not give true scale so it seems that fracking takes place just below an aquifer. Mendacious






How do these parties compare to the Tories?


plaid cymru

This is nearer the truth showing actual fracking 8000ft below the surface. Frack cracks do not travel more than 1000ft upwards so still a mile off an aquifer



And the chemicals  – actually 99.5 5 water and a bit of sand and polyacrylamide. A drinkable mixture. The claim of 632 chemicals is what HAS been used in the past, not what are used even in the USA today.



Naughty Cuadrilla. Please count the porkies. They are easily counted but take longer to give details why they are porkies


A Blackpool college. An energy centre in the area of Britain with the highest unemployment……



How to intimidate academics. Yes, I have heard accounts of what has happened . It is not pleasant


Alleged health effects.




But smoking has no health effects


Experts like Mike Hill say fracking is dodgy


After all Blackpool will go under the sea. The effect of a few 6in holes 8000ft below surface


Mike hill’s office in Lytham

Hill under water

His misrepresentation of flares


and so the locals of Lancashire get hopelessly confused. I don’t blame the writer of the letter but I do blame those who have conned the people of Lancashire

Quake in Lancs

as does the sub-christian horror comic The Church Times.

It was a bishop who told me that the CT was a sub-christian horror comic


And now for more green shibboleths; – for light entertainment




Danger of GMO

Chemical-free organic food





Now here’s the result of a frack-free, organic, no-vaxxer  lifestyle.


Not for me , thanks







The best cycle ride in Lancashire; Trough of Bowland

That is quite a claim to make that one cycle ride could be the best in a county, but I think I am justified. It is a circular route from our house in Garstang (which is nearly at sea level), and is basically from Garstang , over the Trough of Bowland (950ft), through or near Whitewell, on to Chipping and then back to Garstang via Inglewhite.  Depending which alternatives you choose it is 36 to 40 miles and well over 2000ft of climbing. Today I chose the anti-clockwise route, including an extra hill, so I cycled 36 miles, climbed over 2,600ft and did it in 4 hours and 3 minutes. The weather improved whole way round and yesterday’s rain meant clear views.


And so I left home at bang on 2  and set off on back roads through Inglewhite going past their cross on the green and on to the village of Chipping where I had some sweet coffee just outside the church. Shortly before Chipping I had this lovely view of Parlick (1400ft) with more of the Bowland Fells behind. My daughter and son-in-law were up there yesterday and came back as drowned rats.


Having been fortified with unhealthy sugar and witnessing a retired cleric bombing down a hill on a mobility scooter I set off and turned left on a lane where I was presented with a fine view of Pendle Hill of witches’ fame and for giving the type section of the Bowland Shales. The top of the hill is – Pendle Grit!



And so onwards and upwards needing to climb over 300ft on this stretch. I was now on Her majesty’s lands – i.e the Duchy of Lancaster. The hills were unklike the Pendle Grit Fells just to the easy as they were knolls of limestone – in fact limestone mud, but I didn’t stop to look for fossils.



003And so upwards past a farm. Somewhere I saw a stoat or a weasel. I was quite pleased to get to the top with my ticker ticking at about 142 beats per minute. A quick stop for the view  and then whoosh – downhill – but kept stopping for photos.






And so looking down to the River Hodder 300 ft below and the upper Hooder beyond Dunsop Bridge behind with a Yorkshire Dales mountain just visible. As you see the country scents were not honeysuckle, but common and garden shit.





Another fine view with Waddington Fell to the right. There’s another grand ride over there.




007It was tempting to shout “chocks away” here and I did, but only touched 30 mph before caution prevailed with bends ahead. Straight ahead in the valley is Dunsop Bridge – the official centre of mainland Britain. It is famous for its ducks and a café.




Well, down to a bridge of the Hodder, one of the cleanest rivers in Lancs. Off to the left is Whitwell with its posh pub and scenic church, which has a wedding every five minutes. The Environment Agency planted all these trees to protect the bank. Last year I met the man who planted them and doted on them. A good example of an EA employee.





And so I pedalled up the Hodder Valley but 009turned left instead of going to Dunsop Bridge up my favourite Bowland river – Langdon Brook, which has two incredible upper tributaries. Another steady climb past a Catholic church celebrating its 150th birthday  and then looking down on Langdon Brook. I love this stretch of road. I looked over to a 20,000 year old landslide, where an area of 100 by 300 yards of Bowland Shales decided to slide downhill and may have dammed the river.  Ancient landslips are very common here.

010And so I stopped by a little bridge just up from the usual carpark. I first chatted to a horse and then consumed the rest of my unhealthy coffee.  The view uphill was to Sykes farm, a delightful place right on the road . The hill behind is Top of Blaze Moss, which I have been over many times following invisible paths.


011The view the other way showed where I had come from and gives no idea what lay ahead.







After Sykes Farm I went past Sykes Anticline, a great geological site of limestone. Last year I collect a large hunk of coral which I pooped into my panniers, From here it was all uphill with over 400ft of climbing in a mile.





I stopped for an undisclosed reason and took a photo of my steed with the Sykes Anticline behind. 200 years ago lead was mined half way up the crag.






This photo looking uphill is deceptive. You can just make out a car on the steep part of the climb (directly above the 3rd post from the left) As I remounted I engaged my baby chainwheel ready for the grind up. I got up with a gear to spare (but I do have reduction gearing) and cycled past a fine exposure of the Upper Bowland Shales, but did not stop to look at them. My ticker got to 152 ticks a minute up this hill!!

016 And so to the summit, with a lovely view behind. I soon passed the Yorks/Lancs boundary stone and then it was downhill all the way with a thousand feet of altitude to lose.



017Now this was the reward, a fantastic descent through moorland to the upper Wyre valley. It is the right gradient as you go fast but not to fast.






018Leaving the moorland behind , The Marshaw valley is exquisite, especially as no one was there. A lovely river with trees either side  – and – of course – FOXGLOVES.




020But just off the road you can go through a gate onto the moors again  but bikes were not allowed









And the river, not very full at present.









Another view of the road






Two barns over the wall with mandatory foxgloves.

From here I pedalled on with another climb on the side of Haythornthwaite Fell, which is popular with the royals.





024     And before my final descent of 600ft to Garstang a look back at the fells – looking to Wolfhole Crag at 1700ft  – again with invisible paths





And so I returned from my nth time of cycling one of the best routes in Lancashire. I was lucky with the weather. I have done it in all seasons, including under snow and it always feels new.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God

G M Hopkins