Today is the final day of 30 Days of Biking. As I said when I kicked off the month, the goal was to share the joy of riding a bike with as many people as possible, as well as ride every single day.
Well, as it turns out, I rode most days but not every single one of them. However, I did manage to publish a new blog post each day. Perhaps it should’ve been 30 Days of Blogging About Biking…
So it’s time for a brief retrospective.
Have you been inspired to get cycling for the first time? Or have you not ridden a bike since you were a kid? Then check out the free cycle training from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). You don’t even need a bike of your own! You can also apply for a free bike and safety kit if you’re starting a new job.
What about if you’re a reasonably confident leisure rider, and thinking about cycling to work? Make sure you check out CycleStreets journey planner to find a sensible route and think about what you might wear whilst riding.
If you just fancy cycling socially, there are loads of events and groups in Manchester that you might want to check out. Next month, the North West Velo Fest will bring many of these together and organise great, fun and accessible cycling experiences. Remember to check where you can park your bike too.
If you consider yourself a pro rider, well I’m not sure there’s much I suggest. If you fancy a great, scenic ride that’s mostly traffic-free, how about striking out to Liverpool or building your own bike?
So what’s next?
I really enjoyed the ride to Liverpool the other weekend. So this year, I’m signing up to a few other big organised rides.
First, it’s the Great Manchester Cycle – a traffic-free closed route cycling event that takes place on the streets of Manchester, including the Mancunian Way! It’s a great opportunity to ride on Manchester’s urban motorway (normally closed to bikes) and the family-friendly event offers different lengths of route (13, 26 and 52 miles). I did the 26 mile ride in 2012 and I plan to do the same again this year.
I’m also hoping to do the big Manchester to Blackpool bike ride. This iconic ride of about 60 miles is a hugely popular event, attended by thousands of riders of all types. This will be the third time that I’ll go on the ride and I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere, the beautiful scenery and the sense of achievement when I cross the finish line.
Finally (for now), my friend Ella has inspired me to consider an even bigger challenge. The Way of the Roses is a fully-signposted cycle route that runs coast to coast from Morecambe to Bridlington. Designed for all riders, from families to pros, the Way of the Roses uses mostly minor roads and traffic free routes to cover almost 200 miles between the start and the end. Most dauntingly, though, it includes some brutal climbs – but it’s no shame to get off and push, I say. The Way of the Roses is fully documented on its own website, with suggestions for how to prepare for the route and where to stay over – the record for completing it is somewhere around 11 hours, but I’m thinking of up to four days.
Coda to the 30 Days of Biking:
Cycling is a joyful and liberating activity that lets you make short journeys quickly and cheaply. You even get fitter doing it and you don’t have to look like a dork (in fact, it’s quite hipster…).
But cycling in the UK is still a growing activity. The more people that get out riding, though, the more fun it will be for everyone. One of the things that can help this is by asking councils and the government to create real space for cycling on our roads.
Later in May, GMCC will be calling on councillors and other politicians to make cycling even safer and more enjoyable. Originated in London, the Space4Cycling campaign has gone nationwide with events in most major cities.
In Manchester, GMCC are organising a mass bike ride to show off the popularity of cycling in our city and to demand improvements in cycling in Manchester from the council. This is particularly important as it’s ahead of the local elections in our city, which is a real opportunity to make change.
So if you’ve been inspired by the 30 Days of Biking to get out and ride or just like the idea of Manchester as an even more liveable city, come along to the Space4Cycling ride on Saturday 17 May from 2pm at Platt Fields Park. I look forward to seeing you there.
And maybe you’ll be blogging about your riding next year?