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Published: 04 Jun 2021

Ely Cathedral team participates in 2,000 mile bike challenge

Cyclists from Ely Cathedral join in the launch of the 2,000 mile Cathedrals Cycle Route.

Cyclists from Ely Cathedral will be taking part in a nationwide relay ride on a new cycle route linking every Church of England cathedral. The route launched on 30 May to coincide with the start of Bike Week, the annual celebration of cycling delivered by Cycling UK.

11 cyclists made up from Cathedral, staff, volunteers, chorister parents and community members will ride the 54 mile route between Ely and Norwich on Thursday 10 June. They will have picked up the specially commissioned baton from the 17 cyclists from Peterborough Cathedral who will have arrived in Ely the day before.

The Cathedrals Cycle Route is a unique partnership between the Association of English Cathedrals, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans, and links all 42 Church of England cathedrals in a new initiative to promote greener travel and mental and physical wellbeing.

Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely, said, "Ely were very keen to part of this initiative. We see this as a means of supporting our community in recovery especially after a year of restrictions, it is even more important for our mental and physical wellbeing than ever before. This ride also focusses on how Cathedrals are adopting a much greener strategy and highlighting how we have an important role to play in promoting green practice, both locally and nationally ".

The first group of cyclists set out from Newcastle Cathedral, the most northerly Anglican cathedral, on Sunday 30 May and a group is expected to return to Newcastle 42 days later (weather permitting) having cycled every Church of England cathedral. The start of the relay will coincide with The World's Biggest Bike Ride, marking the opening day of Bike Week (May 30-June 5 2021;

The Cathedrals Cycle Route is a unique partnership between the Association of English Cathedrals, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans. It measures 2,000 miles in total, with individual legs between cathedrals varying in length to suit all abilities.

It is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University, and is designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for activities to support physical and mental wellbeing.

Shaun said: "The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them.

"Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, this is a way to support people's mental and physical health and promote the mission of England's cathedrals through pilgrimage, wellbeing and heritage."

The relay ride will raise money for Cycling UK's Break the Cycle appeal, which aims to improve people's wellbeing and tackle social isolation through the charity's community cycling clubs, activities and projects nationwide ( 

Sarah Mitchell, chief executive of Cycling UK, said: "This year's Bike Week event is all about how cycling boosts well-being: physical, mental and emotional. Apart from the obvious health benefits of getting active and reducing our reliance on polluting vehicles, cycling gives us time to think, to reconnect with the outside world, and to meet other people. Our community projects around the country help people come together to ride, to chat, and to learn a skill that gives them mobility and independence, and we are delighted that the launch of this route will also raise funds to help this valuable work."

It is hoped that the relay ride will become an annual event and will encourage more and more people to get on their bikes this year and beyond.