By Simon Pearce
A few months ago, in our continued search for quirky cycling events, a few of us spotted the annual Manchester to Blackpool Night Ride organised by the British Heart Foundation and after a ‘shout out’ on Facebook we formed a team of ten willing if not slightly mad NTC cyclists.
The idea was to cycle 54 miles from Manchester’s Old Trafford Cricket Club to the Blackpool Tower setting off at midnight on Saturday and finishing with a three mile, closed road ride along the Promenade through the Illuminations which would be kept on specially for us.
Half the team met up in Blackpool on Saturday evening where Chrissie, Jacqui (and her support crew of Damon, Kane and Charlotte), Jason, Simon and Simon sought out the town’s finest fish and chips. They didn’t manage to find the ‘finest’ but did eat nevertheless! After the usual getting dressed in a car park, the logistics continued with Chrissie and Jacqui being chauffeured to Manchester whilst Jason and the Simons loaded their bikes into the back of an artic and boarded the coach where an hour later we met up with Debs, Helen and Marie just in time for the start.
With more than 1,500 riders taking part, it took a little while to get started and we crossed the start line at 00:39 and set off through Manchester’s suburbs. Our route took us through beautiful countryside, rural villages and Lancashire towns and was lit by street lights the entire way. Whilst the event wasn’t on closed roads it certainly felt like it as the traffic was virtually non-existent at that time of day.
It was definitely a test of cycling gear as temperatures dropped to just above zero and we knew it was getting colder as we rode past iced-over car windows and frost-covered gardens but even Helen with her six layers at one point wasn’t going to be beat and we hit the first pit stop at 30 miles in around two hours.
A welcome hot drink and snack refill got us on our way for the second half as the sing-a-long continued to the coast reaching Lytham St Anne’s ready for the last stretch before hitting Blackpool.
Having the final three miles on closed roads through the Illuminations was amazing. We collected our medals, took a group photo and then headed on our way home for either bed or, in Simon B’s case, work! Cycling time: 04:01:10.
Well done Chrissie, Debs, Helen, Jacqui, Jason, Lee, Marie and the Simons and sorry you were feeling unwell Nic. Would definitely recommend this event to others next year. Cheap entry, relatively-easy ride, great atmosphere and a unique experience.