On a typically grey and drizzly morning in Stockport, out embarked a team of eclectic cyclists – venturing on their first community cycle club ride. With sparkling freshly trained new Ride Leaders showing us the way we side lined the hectic beginnings of Saturday shopping bumper-to-bumper traffic and disappeared into the lush urban wilderness. A young lad on a bike too big, to older generations of reunited pedal powerers; our cycling team was represented across the board and provided an inspiring opening ceremony to a full weekend of community cycle events that were eager to get kicking across four of Greater Manchester’s boroughs.
The Big Bike Revival had leapt into action.
Cera Cycloan tucks in amongst the pulsing heart of Stockport’s young educating minds in a huge workshop space around the back of the college. Whilst the hardy community bike ride was weaving its way through soggy back streets of south Manchester, the workshop was gearing into action for the day’s big challenge that lay ahead; six hours of sturdy bike recycling was purring into action. As soon as the shutters opened for complimentary business, in came the dusty bicycles and their eager looking owners – ready for the reinvigoration of their rides. Out came the jet wash and the GT85 and up went the steeds onto the medicinal stands for mechanics. A long but well equipped day lay ahead and I had to tear myself away from this charming friendly space and embark on event number two of the day – over to Wigan.
Disappointed to have missed the queues of people and their pedals lining up outside Wigan Community Warehouse, I arrived to a feast of bicycle maintenance, with four stands in an oval of great cheer and productive rejuvenating splendour. Great characters and a great load of bikes in terrible conditions dismantled the afternoon and the sea of broken bicycles soon found that reserved lease of life to be returned to their estranged owners once again – with pledges made to be in motion much more. Chain ring clock workshops and bike wash stations accompanied the fixing within the revival stations as the numbers of nursed bikes approached fifty. Once again it was time to jump upon my own [arguably dishevelled] wheels to leave Gearing Up and head east towards Tameside for event number three of the day.
I could hear the pounding rhythms of youth tunes and elated yelps of flying BMX’ers well before I pulled up to the expansive unit of Cycle-Ops Adventure. The place was buzzing with a large bulk of Ashton’s youth population as they spun around and up and down off temporary ramps that were out for the special event, flickering like erratic fluorescent bulbs in their newly acquired Better Bycycle high visibility jackets dished out by TfGM throughout the events. An interactive trailer spilled out into the courtyard that kept the teenagers occupied many times over. Entering into the workshop space I was greeted with that familiar feast of bike recycling that I’d witnessed so much that day already, the great fragrances of oil and rusty chains filling the ecstatic air as the mobile mechanics worked their wonders – impeccably extracting the appropriate tools from their stationary cargo bikes to ease away the tweaks and squeaks of the forgotten wagons of Tameside.
Pedalling home that night with an oversized trailer attached to my bicycle I was overwhelmed with the warm and blissfully positive recollection of each very different event. How small but such significant factors can sway so dramatically the atmosphere and delivery of each event – sculpted by the people; organisers or participants. After all, it’s only the group based in that area that will be in the position to know how to provide for their local communities.
An hour before the event was due to start on Sunday at Platt Fields Bike Hub, families seemed to be appearing from every direction with bicycles of all the shapes and sizes. The pedal powered soundsystem was already running – complete with four lively volunteers to ease the Sunday cycle atmosphere into good shape for the frantic afternoon that no doubt lay ahead. Eight mechanics were set up to nurse the sea of broken bikes back to health, with an on-the-spot triage system in full swing. Free massages were given to cyclists whilst they waited, who were also invited to make earrings out of inner tubes or belts out of tyres. Visitors slurped coffee from the trike and had free goes on comedy tandems and gliding Dutch bikes. The autumnal park was alive with cycle cheer with people thirstily asking; “When is this happening again?”.
“I’m very new to cycling, so this event was a great opportunity to tune up a bike that I’ve just been given. The free lights and high visibility jackets have set me up very nicely for the impending dark evenings. My bike is running so smoothly now thanks to the many mechanics on hand and my confidence on the roads will hopefully get better as I’ve signed up for some free training with TfGM. The event was so positive and warming; I’ve never seen so many bikes in one place!”