The 2016 Sky Ride marks the end of Sky Ride events in Manchester, with the Sky / British Cycling partnership that started in 2008, now coming to an end.
I’ve ridden quite a few of the Sky Rides since they began and I must admit, there’s quite a few aspects of the ride I’m not that fond of. In particular, the Sky sponsorship / corporateness of the event, the hi-vis vests, the weekend warriors in Lycra and a lack of atmosphere. Though given all that, it’s still been a great opportunity to ride traffic-free into the centre of Manchester and enjoy the streets to ourselves.
The ride took a very different route this year. Instead of the usual route to the National Cycling Centre in east Manchester, the ride headed west to Salford Quays and MediaCityUK, through Trafford. I heard the reason for the change was due to the ongoing road closures in Manchester, though I don’t know if that’s case or there were other factors involved (EDIT: The We Love Manchester 10k run was happening at SportCity on the same day).
We don’t live far from Salford Quays, so the route is well known to us already. Though it was quite nice not having to go far to join the ride. The weather for the day was mixed, some sun, some cloud and some rain. Though overall it was quite warm and it stayed mostly dry.
I’d say the change of route did make a pleasant change and there was probably more of a mix of people taking part this time. The atmosphere was still a bit lacking, though I’ve probably been spoilt by the great atmosphere you can get on Critical Mass.
With the end of the Sky Rides, it’d be a real shame if it marks the end of traffic-free leisure rides in Manchester. I’d really like to see them continue, ideally more frequent than once a year. Something like monthly traffic-free Sundays would be great. It’d also be good if it was less corporate and more of a homegrown event. Whether that’s possible, I don’t know.
EDIT: The Manchester Evening News are saying that British Cycling are working with Manchester City Council to do a similar event next year.