Wensum, by Jim Harding, September 8, 2015

Downhill start - riders leave the Fakenham Community centre at the start of their ride through the surrounding countryside. MLNF15PB08646 ANL-150109-121141001
Downhill start - riders leave the Fakenham Community centre at the start of their ride through the surrounding countryside. MLNF15PB08646 ANL-150109-121141001
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The response to this annual cycling jamboree was excellent and happily included a goodly number of participants who have never worn Lycra and are never likely to. Including your correspondent.

Despite a rather forbidding forecast the rain stayed away until well into the afternoon proceedings when all would have completed their circuits, whether of the minimum 15 miles or the maximum 75 miles. I opted for the green route, a reasonable 25 miles, which had me bowling along via Great Ryburgh and Little Walsingham to Wighton before heading west and back to Walsingham for a so-called feeding station pause. I was certainly ready by then for some home-made flapjack, half a banana and a cup of water prior to pedalling back to the community centre via the Barshams and Sculthorpe. What a great experience.

I shall recall the amazing sound of swift cyclists on their finely-tuned bikes sweeping past me like gusts of wind; the kindness of one such, stopping to help me untangle my chain which had got jammed; the general camaraderie along the way; and the glorious views of harvested fields, grazing sheep, isolated churches and swallows preening themselves on lines, preparing to head south.

This final event of the Active Fakenham week drew the curtain down on a very successful campaign which had encouraged hundreds of people of all ages to ‘get active’ in one way or another. A large number of volunteers had once again given of their time and energies to make everything happen but if there was one controlling factor it surely had to be Richard Crook and the members of his family. They really went the extra mile to keep this show on the road.

One small fact will have to suffice as an illustration of their commitment. On the day before the cyclists came to town they signposted with attached arrows the three principal routes so that no-one would go astray. A task which took them more than six hours to complete. How’s that for dedication. We must all hope that their generosity of spirit extends to 2016 and beyond.

And whilst we’re still on two wheels, don’t forget the double whammy coming up this Saturday[Sep 12]. There’s the penultimate stage of the Tour of Britain setting off from Fakenham racecourse at around 9.45am and coming through the town along Hempton Road and exiting along Holt Road. A spectacle not to be missed.

And if that puts you in the mood to take a spin yourself, it’s the day of the annual Norfolk Churches Trust sponsored bike ride when over 600 church buildings will be open across the county. You can plan your own route to suit yourself and even walk 
round if you prefer. Your local church will have sponsor forms and the money you raise will be divided between the trust and the church of your choice.

n The Fakenham Beacon parish magazine boasts a big circulation in the town thanks to a small army of volunteers who deliver it through letter boxes every month. I particularly like the harvest photo of sunlit wheat and poppies on the front of this month’s edition taken by locally-based pro Keith Osborn.

Fakenham has a proud printing heritage reaching right back to the 19th century so it’s very pleasing that the smart finished article is regularly produced by local company Newprint and Design. My round covers about a hundred homes in Norwich Road territory and takes me up to an hour to complete. There was a time when the magazine was little more than a leaflet and had to be paid for, albeit a modest amount. It’s now free, runs to 20 pages and does its best to combine publicity for church events and also goings-on in the wider community. Its appeal is extended by the number of advertisers it attracts, the income from which enables the enterprise to stay afloat. There are always extra copies of The Beacon in the parish church should anyone miss out and the building is normally open every day until around 4pm.