Event Review

REVIEW: Great Manchester Cycle 2014

by Sarah Lewis

GB Flag

REVIEW: Great Manchester Cycle 2014 


Date: Sunday 29th June 2014 
Distances: 13, 26 and 52-miles 
Entry fee: £21 for all distances (13-mile: kids aged 3-7 ride for free) 
Participants: 8,000 
Start: Manchester City Stadium, SportCity 
Feedstops: One at the half-way point on the 13-mile lapped course 
Catering: Hot/cold drinks and food available before and after the ride 
Timed: Yes (electronic chip on handlebar number)   
Signs: Yes, with marshals at most junctions 
Support: Mechanical bits and bobs from Halfords, moto assistance out on the roads 
Goody bag: Few sponsor-related bits, a t-shirt and medal 

I moved a few miles South of Manchester about a year ago, which put me in a pretty ideal location in terms of being on the doorstep of The Peaks, a short train ride away from the city and in a lovely little town surrounded by greenery. 

This has meant very good things for my cycling since leaving London, where I think I found it slightly too easy to make excuses not to go out on the longer rides. The main reason for this was the amount of time riding through built-up areas where traffic whizzed past your right elbow with about an inch to spare, before getting out into the open Hertfordshire/Kent countryside to start the ride 'proper'... where the weekend traffic was still pretty heavy. Perhaps this means I was a bit of a 'softie' at the time, but I can live with that. 

While I've spent the last year building up a good network of twisting country lanes and quiet climbs overlooked only by sheep, I decided pretty far in advance that I would again sign up to ride the Great Manchester Cycle in the heart of the city around 14 miles to the North. Even though the Peak District is in full Summer mode at the end of June with bright green fields, juvenile livestock larking about and some pretty cracking weather, it was totally worth giving up this National Park in favour of the closed, traffic-free roads of Manchester for around three hours on a Sunday morning. 


This was the second year I'd taken part in the event (and the third time it has been held) so I knew what to expect from the long, 52-mile route. With the same Manchester City HQ and a pretty much identical route (minus some pinch points highlighted from last year), it would only really be my fellow participants (and the weather) that might be significantly different. 

Having been out to a BBQ the evening before, I decided to drive into Manchester rather than going for a rather more hardcore commute in and back (making up a 90-mile round trip). This was pretty simple, except for the fact that I'd presumed the diversion signposting to be a little clearer so I went around in a few odd Mancunian circles. To be fair to the organisers though, there were detailed instructions on the website and I think I'd just approached from a minor route they hadn't accounted for. On arrival to the Etihad Stadium (which was hosting the event), there was bountiful, free parking and I was soon set up and ready to go, with five minutes to roll to the start before everyone was set off. 


The scale of the operation was pretty impressive, with a pop-up village hosting everything from mountains of individually-wrapped Soreen fingers and good quality coffee, through to a collection of the official charities that a number of the riders would be fundraising for. There was also a stage to be occupied later in the day and a Halfords mechanic tent for anyone needing some last-minute technical assistance. As I reached what was pretty much the back of the waiting group, it started to make sense just how 8,000 people would be riding the course with the three distances on offer during the day (26 miles - two laps; 13 miles - one lap). 

While you'd be hard-pushed to spot anything other than a road bike on the start line of your usual sportive, this one is a little different. Here, there was a whole range of bikes (think TT through to penny farthing) - accompanied by a whole range of riders: from the very old to the very young (the latter rode the 13-mile route for free). 


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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 7 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 10 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 8 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 9 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 9 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 8 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 6 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 9 out of 10
Overall Rating 84.4%

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