The sign marked the entrance to the Castlefield arena where there were a number of stalls and an awful lot of sand.
This year I thought I'd have a go at diluting the corporate spin with some loud music and a four wheeled pedal cycle...
...and a trailer carrying a message about Critical Mass.
However, it took me some time to realise that all the other sound systems I saw were rather similar and somehow artificial. Not the kind of hardcore setups that turn out for Critical Mass and political demos.
They were in fact all being paid for their services. They were all clowns riding Circus Zapparelli’s fleet of sound bikes. When I stopped for a chat I was even told they might be able to get me some work with the Brox.
To add to the disneyesque nature of the day a Jessica Rabbit look-alike on a bike was hired in to do the naff publicity photos.
At least the 105th Manchester Scout Group turned out in their own pedal cars.
The ride itself was fairly boring; an out and back from Castlefield to the Commonwealth Games Stadium with two way bikes on both sides of the road, making it pretty cramped. Only if you ventured out from the stadium up to the extra loop to the velodrome did you then get a lovely little ride on quiet roads back to the stadium.
Sadly Sky Ride is one of those events where lots of drivers strap bikes onto their cars and drive into Manchester so they can have a few hours cycling in the city centre, dressed up in helmets and ugly yellow advertising bibs before driving home again to their car-dominated suburbs. Far from improving the image of cycling, it promotes the idea that cycling is dangerous and strange. It would be far better to close the city centre to traffic every Sunday and encourage people to cycle into the city.
Vole O'Speed has posted a pretty good damnation of this kind of event.
I've been to enough of those Sky Ride type events. They are horrible. They amount to a kind of unique torture for cyclists, cramming us together like sardines in a tin on a few niggardly-handed out kilometres of closed roads in central London, for which privilege we have to suffer a bombardment of unwelcome music, moronically-cheery "motivational" announcements over PA systems, the advertising of sponsors forced down our throats, a sea of stupid yellow tabards, the promotion of helmets, and the presence of boring cyclesport celebrities. Like everything else to do with the official treatment of transport cycling in the UK, it's just another insult.
Sky ride is a sad example of Manchester's lack of transport focus when it comes to spending on cycling. The council channelled over 8 times more money on funding sports facilities for British Cycling (funded by Sky and car firm Fiat) than it has spent over the past five years on making the streets of Manchester attractive for cycling.