The Mince Pie Meet
Sunday 17th December 2017
The CTC annual Mince Pie Meet at Belton Village Hall (c.5 mlles West of Loughborough) from 10.00am to 12-30pm.
Hundreds of local cyclists meet there, most having ridden from their home towns and cities for refreshments, a chinwag, and a warm. There is a raffle in aid of Rainbows Children's Hospice with lots of prizes. £600 was raised in 2016. See below the map for a flavour of the event and some of its history.
All cyclists welcome
The Mince Pie Phenomenon
as seen by Lyn Dolphin
from an article in Cycle Chat March 2013
On the last Sunday before Christmas each year [Ed. except when the Sunday is Christmas Eve] a strange phenomenon befalls the small Leicestershire village of Belton. Over a two and a half hour time window the village hall sits beneath its own guiding star and cyclists migrate from across the county and beyond for the annual Mince Pie gathering.
Just prior to the scheduled 10.30 start, the hall waits with an expectant air, the silence is almost palpable. Tables are laid out and seats are spaced with near military precision. Sandwiches, cakes and of course mince pies are piled high on the counters. Large pots of tea are made. The cash tin is ready. And the Loughborough section members are poised, 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 – will there be too little or too much food is a constant thought prior to the start.
The hands on the clock move to 10.30, and, as if a gong has struck, the cyclists start to enter the hall. Racing clubs in their resplendent, sometimes vibrant, colours and touring cyclists in black lycra, coloured clothing or tartan plus-fours. 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, sandwiches and cake are eaten, raffle tickets bought, Christmas cards swapped, long lost friends reunited and stories of the past year, plans for Christmas and aspirations for the following year are shared.
The hands of the clock move on. As they approach noon the raffle tickets are folded and the draw commences. Whilst none of the prizes are expensive, all are donated and the joy of winning, or the disappointment of not, is all part of the experience.
And then, in the same way as it started, everyone just disappears, off to their own rituals of Christmas. The volunteers from Loughborough section tidy up, clear away, count the profit for the charity and switch off the lights for another year. The hall returns to silence.
I have looked in the dictionary for a collective noun for a gathering of cyclists. The nearest one is a peloton, but this really relates to the chasing pack in a road race. So I think the next time you see a group of cyclists, on the road, in a cafe or pub, or just gathering by the roadside, you should think of them as a “belton” of cyclists - in a tribute to this annual spectacle and the hard work that goes into staging it by the unsung volunteers of the Loughborough section.
History of the Mince Pie Run
based on a piece in the President's column by Peter Hopkins in Cycle Chat March 2000
Strange to think that it all began so informally on a wet Sunday CTC run over 20 years ago - Christmas Eve 1978, when Jessie and Ian Hay invited the half dozen bedraggled cyclists home to Long Whatton for hot mince pies and coffee. Then their son Nigel turned up with some equally sodden Loughborough RC members - and the idea for the Mince Pie Run was born!
The following year, Howard Naylor having presented the section with some handsome trophies, 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 sections, neighbouring DAs, and clubs listed in the RTTC and BCF handbooks. And they certainly came! It was an immediate success.
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 - and there was a good chance of meeting people you hadn't seen for months.
Of course, over the years there have inevitably been some changes. After the first Christmas, Long Whatton school hall was no longer available and John Williams' initiative found us Belton village hall for 1980. We've been there ever since, though it's many years since we last used the occasion for presenting our prizes.
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 tha long ago Christmas Eve develop into a major event on the cycling scene.
It is now so well established that the Mince Pie Run appears in the "Cycle Touring" calendar with national events like the Meriden Service and York Rally. Jessie and Ian would be proud to see it reach its 21st this year.You can read more about the history of Loughborough CTC and the Mince Pie Run here.
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