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‘End-to-ender’ cycling priests rest their knees

29 September 2023

Retired priests separately complete the cycle ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groats

PETER LANGFORD

The Revd Peter Langford

The Revd Peter Langford

“YOU don’t achieve it with your legs: you achieve it in your head,” says the Revd Peter Langford, who, at the age of 90, is one of two retired priests who have separately completed the cycle ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groats (News, 25 August, 8 September).

It is the fourth time that he has done the “end-to-ender”, and, on this ride — definitely his last, he says — has raised more than £35,000, and still counting, for work with the homeless.

High points, he says, were the support of family; low points, “the hills”. He described his bad knees as painfully uncomfortable when he had to push the bike uphill; the highest point was 1500 feet. Getting in and out of big conurbations was the worst — members of the public-transport authority SolTrans guided him through Manchester — but the beauty of the north coast of Scotland reinforced his view of Great Britain as a wonderful island.

CLIFFORD OWENThe Revd Clifford Owen with his daughter Kathryn

“You have to have a certain sort of determination,” he concludes, remembering a day when intense pain was overcome and he “had this sort of feeling that I was meant to do it. . . I really felt God’s presence, and I felt the prayers of people.”

For the Revd Clifford Owen, who is 80, this was also the fourth successful attempt, and he acknowledged, “I started with a stack of confidence. But was aware that I had lost strength — and that proved to be the case when I got to the hills.” He was riding with his daughters, Isobel and Kathryn, one of whom “would always watch my back,” he says.

He never doubted, however, that he would finish it. High points for him were the exhilaration of completing an uphill climb, and the beauty and joy of reaching the Moray coast: low points were the density, speed, and intolerance of traffic on the first leg out of Cornwall.

Days gripping the handlebars numbed his fingers. He opted not to have a back-up vehicle, and carried everything in panniers, jettisoning anything that wore out. His church, All Saints’, Hartford — for which he has raised £3500 so far, plus a projected £1000 from the Inter-Continental Church Society — posted messages about his progress daily, and generated interest from local radio.

There were “huge answers to prayer”, he says, remembering six miles of an alternative, car-free route through major roadworks. “I said, ‘O God, this is a sign from you.’”

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