Munchin eats up the miles on the road to Rome
The Team Rector of the Welwyn Team Ministry, the Revd Dr David Munchin, is on sabbatical. He is to spend it at the Anglican Centre in Rome and instead of flying, driving or catching a train to get there he has chosen to cycle, at the same time raising much-needed funds for Herts Welcomes Syrian Families.
The distance from Welwyn to Rome is about 1700 miles, about as far as an averagely-used family car might go in two months. According to Strava, the GPS cycle journey tracking service, the journey to Rome represents 17 weeks average cycle commuting. He expects to complete the journey in less than a quarter of that time.
David says he is following: “.. the old pilgrims route known as the via Francigina, first documented by the splendidly named Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury who undertook the journey at the end of the 10th century.” Archbishop Sigeric walked and would not have foreseen that the route would last more than 1000 years and be renamed ‘Eurovelo Route 5’ (from Canterbury onwards) David is hoping that his ride will raise at least £2500 for Herts Welcomes Syrian Families www.hwsf.org.uk an established charity working with Syrian families for which David has fundraised before. Anyone wanting to donate can do so here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/revdavidmunchin
You can follow David’s journey via his parish website www.welwyn.org.uk and his blog on Facebook – just search ‘David Munchin’. Those not on FB will find instructions on the parish website for how to access the Blog.
And here are some of David’s brilliant bulletins sent during his breaks on the trip:
Three days into the trip, just across the channel and on the way to Roubaix, a stop on one of the great cycling race routes, David said: “…am trying to come to terms with the fact that today was a very easy day. Perfect weather, easy distance, mostly flat, no mishaps – there will be very few days like this – and I know some will be just grim – every time the bike goes up hill the weight makes climbing unbearable, and there will be a lot of that. But there we are -nothing to do for it now except enjoy this beautiful evening.”
And on Day 5: Now a little gentle rain is not necessarily bad news for the cyclist – it can be rather refreshing. Indeed the real danger is not the water – it is the getting cold that you worry about. Well as I set out, I put on my rain jacket which did it’s usual trick of holding the rain off for an hour. Last night ast night my military historian at hand – Justin Lewis-Anthony helpfully said: you’re not going through the Ardenne? That so hilly and dense with forest that it was undefended in the war, because it was assumed Hitler couldn’t get his tanks through.
Well I thought the Ardenne were just a type of pate – but frankly it would indeed be easier to get a tank through them than bicycle. At first it was fine. I followed the river Meuse at a good pace – and saw a novelty – for the first time in 450 miles a Eurovelo 5 sign!
And then the climbing started. Pretty fierce and steep. But then a flatter section. However by this time it had really started raining hard. I must have gone over 10 hills and valleys. Long slow climbs and slightly terrifying descents. It went on and on. It was still raining.
Finally however the overnight stop Bastogne was in range and the sun even made an appearance. By the time I reached the hotel I was warm again. 81 miles on the clock. The moment i walked in the door the battery collapsed on all 3 devices – iPad, gps, phone, literally within seconds.”