This year, we were really proud to accept the invitation to be official mechanical support provider on this year’s Great Manchester Cycle.
This involved laying on a squad of Bike Co-op mechanics who would be stationed at the start/finish at the Etihad (AKA Man City) and the halfway rest stop at Old Trafford (AKA Man Utd). Clearly, this is a bike ride that unites people from sometimes opposing backgrounds.
The organisers expected 8,000 riders to turn up. To cope with the demand for free mechanical fixes over the whole day we brought in reinforcements from our Leeds and Sheffield shops to support the nine mechanics from our Manchester shop.
The Great Manchester Cycle has a number of unique features:
- Its closed-road 13-mile loop through the middle of Manchester gives local riders the sweet taste of riding on urban motorways such as the Mancunian Way, where cycling is otherwise banned 364 days of the year.
- Each rider can choose between a four lap, a two lap or a single lap ride. The four-lap 52-mile ride is a decent challenge for experienced riders. The single-lap ride is just as significant a milestone for adults and kids not used to riding 13-miles.
Clearly, the Great Manchester Cycle is a ride nearly anyone can enjoy (which is why we chose to sponsor it).
This inclusiveness inspired five of us to get up at dawn to drive from Edinburgh Bike Co-op HQ to Manchester for the Great Cycle’s midday two-lap 26-mile chapter.
Being a traffic-light Sunday morning, we reached the Etihad in less than four hours.
Although showers were forecast, it was warm and dry when we set off on our two-lap maiden tour of central Manchester.
Given we’re more used to sponsoring rural rides such as Tour O The Borders and Wooler Wheel, it was quite a contrast to experience a totally urban ride, taking in high modern buildings rather than tall ancient hills.
Having said that we quickly settled into the ride. As happens on a bike, you take to fantasising. How amazing would it be if your introduction to every big city was a bike ride through a motor traffic-free town centre?
On car-free roads, you can relax while you pedal. You take in street names you’ve heard of, but never experienced before. You think about connections. How appropriate was it to make our way to the Etihad by Sat Nav when you discover the car park is on Alan Turing Way?
Riding along Sir Matt Busby Way, it came back to meet that when I was a young admirer of Sir Matt’s legendary football team starring Best, Charlton and Law, my late dad told me, ‘Of course, Busby used to play for the Hibs’. Clearly the Edinburgh – Manchester connection was healthy long before we opened our shop in Rusholme in 2007.
We realised fortune was with us when we stopped on the second lap to say hello to our Manchester and Leeds colleagues outside Old Trafford. We had been there just two minutes when the heavens opened.
Then the sun burst through for a perfect final eight miles to the finish at Etihad.
After the ride, we completed our trip by visiting two Manchester landmarks.
Our shop on Wilmslow Road – the Bike Co-op’s biggest branch, and, to finish our day in the best possible way – a staff meal on the Curry Mile, just along the road from our shop.
Posted by Bike Co-op founder member, Ged. 30 June 2015.