Tour of Britain puts new spin on Ride + Stride for St Catharine’s

Published: Monday September 11, 2023

Jo Pestell and Henrietta standing at the Tour of Britain finish line in the sun

Huge crowds turned out across Gloucestershire on Saturday 9 September to watch the seventh stage of the Tour of Britain cycling event. Members of St Catharine’s in Gloucester were not only among them but also took part in cycling part of the course.

The Tour of Britain is the UK’s most prestigious annual cycling event which sees over 100 of the world’s best riders take to the country’s scenic roads.

Henrietta Cozens says, “I was completely surprised, and I must admit slightly panicked, when an email popped into my inbox in late August from Ollie Hazel, the Active Travel and Cycling Coordinator at Gloucestershire County Council, asking if I could lead a community group of cyclists through the Gloucester finish at the Tour of Britain. While I had heard of the Tour de France, I was unaware that a seven-day cycle race across Britain was about to take place and would pass our doorstep on its penultimate day – 9 September.”

The seventh stage of this year’s Tour started in Tewkesbury and finished at the historic Gloucester Docks and was the first time that Gloucestershire has hosted a full stage of the Tour.

Henrietta says, “The Revd Jo Pestell lent her support, and we invited the St Catharine’s English learners who had benefitted from our recent cycling grant from Active Gloucestershire. I also invited women cyclists from the British Cycling Breeze scheme I ride with.

“On the day we were ten riders and represented Iran, Russia, Sudan, India, Panama, Malaysia and the UK. On what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, we met in St Catharine’s Church, where we were given a warm welcome, plus cool water and cake, because conveniently it was the same day as Ride + Stride.

“We cycled down Denmark Road, swooped past the Cathedral and arrived at the Docks where events were already underway and we had to push our bikes through the crowds. We were met with a smile by the Gloucestershire County Council co-ordinator who had emailed me, and given a safety briefing about potholes and bridges. After ten minutes, we could hear ourselves being announced over the loudspeaker by the Race Announcer, and we were off for our 1km loop.

Crossing the finish line on their special lap of the Tour“It was exciting to ride through the finish line and be clapped by the gathering crowds. It was then amusing to have to wait for the canal bridge to lower before we could complete our loop. But most importantly, I believe it gave a confidence boost to everyone who took part. One 60-year-old lady wrote afterwards: ‘Had such a fab time! Proud moment for me able to cycle around at my age.’

“I hope each rider knows that they are an important part of our city, that the Church can provide an active and inclusive community, and that just like Jesus’ resurrection, even the most seemingly impossible things can happen. Certainly, when my friend gifted her bicycle to me four years ago due to her own failing eyesight, neither she nor I would have imagined it would have the chance to ride through the Tour of Britain finish line.”





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