Cyclists will eat all the pies on the 40th anniversary of the Mince Pie Run

How many mince pies are too many for a hungry cyclist? Photo by NMK Photography via Flickr CC
Homemade mince pies by NMK photography via flickr cc
Homemade mince pies by NMK photography via flickr cc

Cyclists will eat all the pies on the 40th anniversary of the Mince Pie Run

Cyclists in the East Midlands area are in for a festive treat this Sunday 23 December. Hundreds of riders from all around the area converge to catch up with friends, hand out Christmas cards and celebrate Yuletide, most having ridden from their home towns and cities for refreshments, a chinwag, and a warm-up plus, of course to enjoy piles of delicious mince pies and gallons of steaming hot tea. But how did this tradition start? Peter Hopkins, a past President of Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club who organise the ride explains.

Eyes on the pies

He writes: "Strange to think that it all began so informally on a wet Sunday forty years ago - Christmas Eve 1978, when Jessie and Ian Hay invited the half dozen bedraggled touring cyclists home to Long Whatton for hot mince pies and coffee. Then their son Nigel turned up with some equally sodden Loughborough Road Club members - and the idea for the Mince Pie Run was born! The following year we decided to hire Long Whatton School hall, lay on tea, coffee and goodies, and ask local cyclists to come along for our first prize presentation. We sent out invitations to all the cycling clubs in the area and they certainly came! It was an immediate success.

Jessie and Ian Hay's hospitable get-together for a few friends on that long ago Christmas Eve developed into a major event on the cycling scene

Peter Hopkins, past President of Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club

By 1982, it was no longer necessary to send out invitations. Loughborough Mince Pie Run had already become an institution: all East Midlands cyclists knew THE place to be on the last Sunday before Christmas. Of course, over the years there have inevitably been some changes. After the first Christmas, Long Whatton school hall was no longer available and the event moved to Belton Village Hall. Sadly, Jessie and Ian are no longer with us, but years before they died they had seen their hospitable get-together for a few friends on that long ago Christmas Eve develop into a major event on the cycling scene."


Groups of cyclists outside the hall

More than just mince pies...

John Catt of Leicestershire and Rutland CTC, and current organiser of the event, says all cyclists are welcome to come along. But the meet is about more than just people stuffing their faces with festive fare...

He describes the scene: "On the last Sunday before Christmas each year a strange phenomenon befalls the small Leicestershire village of Belton. Over a two-and-a-half hours, hundreds of cyclists migrate from across the county and beyond for the annual Mince Pie gathering. Belton Village Hall awaits them with tables and chairs laid out and food - including of course mince pies - piled high on the counters. Large pots of tea are made and the volunteers make ready for the invasion. How many will come is dictated by the weather. Snow, ice and rain make the numbers fall, but a little sunshine brings out many.

Long-lost friends reunited and stories of the past year, plans and aspirations for the following year are shared

John Catt, organiser of the Mince Pie Run 2018

Just before 10.30am, the riders arrive and enter the hall. Racing clubs in their resplendent in club colours and touring cyclists in black lycra, coloured clothing or tartan plus-fours. They come from all points of the compass: Nottingham, Derby, Burton, Hinckley, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Ashby, Loughborough. Tall cyclists, short cyclists, young cyclists, old cyclists, seasoned cyclists, novice cyclists, recumbent cyclists, tandem cyclists and car assisted cyclists, they all come, one and all. The tables fill up, the seats are moved randomly, noise and temperature levels rise. Clothing, helmets, hats and gloves are abandoned to any spare space, tea is drunk, cakes, savouries and mince pies are eaten, tombola tickets bought, Christmas cards swapped, long-lost friends reunited and stories of the past year, plans and aspirations for the following year are shared."

Great effort, John, we hope the Mince Pie Run continues for at least another four decades!

Can you help?

Last year, the event raised over £500 via the tombola for the Rainbows Children's Hospice and hope to exceed that sum this year. The group are looking for more volunteers to help, so If you could spare some time on the day - and love mince pies! - please email mincepie@ctclr.org.uk.

And just in case you're wondering how much cycling you'll need to do to burn off all those pies, our handy guide will tell you that it's 46 minutes. We wonder if Pod Howard, who is only eating mince pies throughout December until Christmas Day, will turn up?!

 

 

 

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