On Wednesday 30th August we welcomed keen cyclists Paul and Julie Byers from Winchester to the Cathedral, who arrived at the start of their final leg of visiting all the English cathedrals. Cycling on a locally-made tandem, their pedal pilgrimage has been taking place over the last year-or-so.

Fresh from getting their Pilgrim Passport stamped and stickered, we spoke to the couple to catch up on their adventures. Paul picks up the journey so far:

“Our first major chunk was from home to the West Country, down as far as Truro, and then back up to Exeter and Bristol. Our second part was from home, out to the Midlands and Wales: Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester, Lichfield, Birmingham and Coventry, and then right across to East Anglia and down to London.

“Sadly this was around the time that the Queen had died, so it was quite somber being somewhere like St. Albans, where the bells were muffled.

“Then earlier this year we cycled to Kent as we needed to visit Rochester and Canterbury. Before that we’d done a single trip to Chichester, as that was easily doable.

“This trip sees us taking in the last of the cathedrals. Julie’s brother lives in Keighley so today it’s Bradford, then Wakefield and out to Lincoln, then back across the country through Derby, Chester and Liverpool, and head up the west coast as far as Carlisle, across to Newcastle, down to Durham and York, and back to Keighley.

“And that just leaves us with our home cathedral to do, which we decided to do last!”

“And we did Portsmouth when we went on a trip to France,” added Julie.

The tandem they are cycling on is local, coming from JD Tandems in Gargrave, and they did their inaugural cycle on it to Malham Cove, with currently 7,500 miles under their belt on this particular bike over the past two years. Their pedal adventures have also seen them bump into other cyclists.

“We met another couple who are doing the same tour as us, and they live in Sunderland – Jim and Marie – who have already been through Bradford, and we’ve cycled to meet them previously.”

Marie is currently writing an article about the journeys, and hopes to write a book.

We were keen to know more about life on a tandem, and whether such close cycling caused any issues or disputes!

“We’ve done quite a few thousand miles together. When you’re a novice tandem rider the balance takes a while, and on our first ride wobbles were proportional to laughter! But you get the hang of it, and we’re equal in terms of power.

“We also regularly check Google Maps to make sure we can get down routes due to things like motorcycle bars.”

We wish Paul and Julie all the best for the rest of their pedal pilgrimage!

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