RIDE and stride took a new meaning last week as the vicar covering Tidworth and Ludgershall jumped on his bike.

Reverend Tim Laundon, a keen cyclist, took on a 42 mile ride through Hungerford, Ramsbury, Marlborough and Pewsey ending up at Holy Trinity Church Hall in Tidworth, with a slice of cake and coffee, on September 14.

The aim of the ride was to get people from the local community out on their bikes to get to know each other, especially the new military personnel.

“What I was hoping to do was to build a relationship with the local military personnel who enjoy cycling and get to know them to build a community in the local area,” Rev’d Laundon said.

“I think military and civilian integration, I feel is something that is really important.

“To integrate the new military personnel and their families that I have wanted to develop since I moved here.”

Despite his wish, unfortunately Rev’d Laundon took on the ride by himself, but that has not deterred him from organising the same event for next year’s Ride and Stride event.

Organised by Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust, Ride and Stride allows people to visit often old and beautiful churches with ancient bell towers, interiors reflecting our rich heritage, often in beautiful settings.

But that did not stop others taking part to explore some of the 900 churches that were opening their doors on the day.

One group set off from St James’ Church, in Ludgershall, on foot to walk up to the Chutes, and members of the congregation charged their E-Bikes and cycled as far as they could until their batteries ran out.

Rev’d Laundon said: “I saw them on the way back into Ludgershall and they were looking pretty pleased with themselves.”

The vicar took up cycling when he lived in Yorkshire to get to and from work, but slowly began to increase the miles, and when he was installed as the Priest in Charge of the Benefice of Ludgershall and Tidworth in January he joined the Andover Wheelers.

“I think it is relatively unusual in terms of vicars, being so young and keen on cycling, and this is an unusual area, having so many young fit people because of the military.”

Rev’d Laundon hopes to now liaise with the military community to make the event bigger next year, and possibly start up a group for those in the benefice who enjoy getting out on their bikes to ride together.