A unique cycle tour of Manchester's Community Cycle Clubs

BMXers at Cycle-Ops youth bike recycling project, Tameside

A unique cycle tour of Manchester's Community Cycle Clubs

CTC is helping to create Community Cycle Clubs across Greater Manchester. As Anna Smith, CTC's Community Cycling Development Officer in the city, takes a unique cycling tour of Manchester, she discovers many hidden gems and the best cafés too.

Anna Smith blogs: 

In September 2014, I started the project. Six glorious months lay ahead of me with a target to set up 15 new community cycle clubs. Greater Manchester was my pedal powered playground, with a task of helping anyone aged  8-80 years. I could work with any community group, so I off I went on my bicycle to find them.

Soon I discovered a phenomenal community bicycle spirit – formed in unique nooks of a seemingly ever expanding ginormous region of Greater Manchester. I thought I'd let you know about some of the projects and people I have met and been inspired by:

Wigan 

Venturing into the ample space of Wigan Community Warehouse you’ll find creative upcycling in every form. Tucked away in the corner is Gearing Up, a new bike recycling project stampeding forward into the community with realistic ambitions of repair.

Volunteers are welcomed, bikes are donated and refurbished shinier bicycles with rejuvenated lives are re-introduced back into the world of Wigan and beyond.

If it’s cycling around the regions you would rather do, it’s Wigan Borough Community Cycle Club you want to get involved with. They lead the friendliest rides that take you to new and unusual places you’d never knew exist – everyone is welcome: slow, speedy or somewhere in the middle.

Seeing as brilliant grassroots bike projects like to help each other out, you’ll often find WBCCC starting and ending their rides at Gearing Up headquarters café. 

Bury 

Head east to Bury and you’ll discover the cosiest park imaginable with an emerging community café; Up Your Welly. This café welcomes wide communities but pays particular attention to long-term unemployed and mental health patients. Beginner cycling sessions are currently underway: watch out Bury you’re about to get busy with bikes! Manchester Road Park is where they’re at.

Rochdale

Up and over some hills into Rochdale and sitting by that great lake is Hollingworth Water Adventure Centre – as it says in the title it's largely water based fun but there are bikes there too! The bumpy kind… with chunky tyres and bouncing suspension - ready to be played on. There are early stages of a community club but these positively gleam with potential! 

Ashton 

Swooping down slightly south and to the east, it’s all about the young people over at Cycle-Ops in Ashton. There are open sessions every Thursday which welcome young people to build their own bikes from scratch. Their huge workshop plays the perfect host for next generation bicycle mechanics who proudly pedal away after parting with just a quid.

A short pedal takes you over to Tameside Cycle Circuit, where the biggest attended beginner cycle course I’ve ever seen is taking place with a large group of incredibly enthusiastic Asian women. Throw in some follow up maintenance courses and hopefully some ride leader training and we’ll be set to form an all-female club and a cycling force to be recognised..

Stockport

Heading south along the Fallowfield Loop (Britain’s longest urban cycle way in our amazing city) feeds you nicely into the southern hemisphere of Greater Manchester – time to go to Stockport. Just wait until you see the workshop at Cera Cycloan; the biggest bike recycling centre I’ve seen in GM so far. Working with the hoards – from young offenders, to mental health patients, to student volunteers – it seems everyone is getting training to learn advanced bicycle mechanics. Fresh off the press are brand new monthly led rides and as predicted, everyone is welcome. Meet at CC HQ at 10am on the last Sunday of every month.

Brand new into the Community Clubs equation is Stockport CP Wheelers, a formidably friendly inclusive cycling project that meets every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning at Woodbank Park with a phenomenal selection of adapted bikes to suit all. 

A quick coffee at Tandem House Stockport’s exciting new cycle café; will fire you up suitably to re-join the Loop and end up at Platt Fields: everyone’s favourite all bike encompassing urban park.

Platt Fields 

Here you will find Platt Fields Bike Hub based in the old Boathouse – if you’re a locally based grassroots bicycle project you’ve probably used the tools or space already. If not and you fancy beginner training or joining in on the regular ad-hoc hub club rides, then you need to visit the friendly gang.

New projects or ideas are entirely welcome to add to the turbo supply of activities. One coffee is nice, but a second slug from @CoffeeCranks trike if you’re there on a Friday will fuel you up nicely to return once more to the Fallowfield Loop. Ride to the end and hit the canal at Stretford to continue a highly pleasant traffic-free spin up to Altrincham.

Altrincham 

15 primary schools are soon to be invited into the mix to put Altrincham on Wheels high up on the mass participation kiddie bicycle radar – an ambitious cluster of parents are powering forward with formidable plans that we hope will shift into fruition when it turns a bit warmer.

Trafford 

Hanging around in Trafford for a while is highly worth it, as there is plenty of other community bicycle action happening. Chainlink is another brand new bike recycling project set up with BlueSCI to help through cycling engage people with mental health difficulties.

The lovely addition of community rides is also very popular with rides every Tuesday from 1pm – 3pm at Old Trafford Wellbeing Centre. Based at 3 locations across the borough take old bikes to donate or come and fix your own .Get in touch with neil@chainlink.org.uk to find out more.

Finally – as the clockwise community clubs cycling tour of Greater Manchester draws to a close, we’ll stop off in Salford to marvel a delightful cycle mural attached to the new MyCycle project within the university. Wow what potential and space they have – for now there’s super cheap bike hire up for grabs!

There’s no doubt that these recent discoveries are only just scratching the surface of all the many community cycle happenings in Manchester – but there’s still room for more! Superb offers of training and support are up for grabs. If you are a  member of a community group in Greater Manchester who likes the idea of injecting cycling into your project, then it’s about time I shared the Community Clubs information. 

Anna Smith, is a CTC Cycling Development Officer based at Transport for Greater Manchester. She is busy setting up 15 Community Cycle Clubs to encourage more people to cycle. 

To contact her email: anna.smith@tfgm.com or follow her on Twitter: @ccc_gm

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