Report: Sky Ride Blackpool
Event: 31st August 2010, Blackpool
Report, Video and Images: Eddie Allen
Wow... It's the only word that sums up the feeling of riding Blackpool promenade as the sun set on a balmy late summer's day, amid thousands of other cyclists, with the our way lined with the famous illuminations, passing the resort's famous sights. On the last day of August 2010, Blackpool prom was rocked with the sight of thousands of cyclists - if you'd broke the night in two it would have had ‘Sky Ride' written right through it.
From 7pm onwards, the daylight began to dim, and as it did, the famous seaside stretch between Bispham and the South Shore began to fill with cyclists of all kinds, from road racers to little kids on beat-up bikes. All had one thing in common once they arrived- an enchanted, mesmerised look - all bowled over by the sheer scale of the cycling spectacle unfolding along the Golden Mile.
As 7:30 approached, the numbers had swelled even more and the sights had become even more incredible. The tarmac between the hotels and amusements and the sea front had become a log-jam of Sky Ride bibs. Close your eyes and the sounds of laughter, chiming bike bells, honking horns and ticking freewheels was magical. Tourists sailed past on Blackpool's famous trams, looking utterly bemused. Local residents (if they hadn't saddled up and joined in) came to the tops of their streets and watched, mouths agape as the numbers swelled. This wasn't just a bike ride - this was a party...
8:05 came and the red sun finally set out over the Irish Sea and the party stepped up a gear. At the entertainment area, bottles of Gatorade and Drench water were being dispensed to thirsty riders at breakneck speed. The Wattbikes at British Cycling's Love Cycling stand were barely at rest all night. Staff at the Cycling Projects stand were kept on their toes all night, answering questions about their Wheels for All and Cycling for Health initiatives, while Evans Cycle's mechanics twirled spanners and Allen keys all evening, to the backbeat of Wave Radio's DJ. Sky Ride Local was there too, offering a range of great led rides in the Blackpool area, while Adidas sold Team Sky merchandise to a host of eager fans.
With darkness fully descended, the event took on a completely different character, as the creative efforts of the many riders was revealed by the low light. Many had completely rigged their bikes out in lights, miniature two-wheeled Blackpool illuminations in their own right. There were bikes with complete sets of fairy lights, bikes wrapped with glow sticks, bikes with LED lights on every spoke, mimicking the illuminated Ferris wheel on the pier. Even the usually workaday red and white flashing LEDs took on a magical quality, by sheer weight of numbers, with thousands of flashing points stretching as far as the eye could see both ways along the promenade.
And so the wheels kept spinning and the lights kept flashing until 10pm when the roads reopened to traffic and the spell was broken. However Sky Ride Blackpool was an experience that will live long in the memory of everyone involved - a truly unforgettable evening and a powerful demonstration of the Blackpool's love for cycling.
For more information on Sky Ride and Sky Ride Local go to www.goskyride.com