The 2020 Manchester to Blackpool Bike event

September 6, 2020


The 2020 Manchester to Blackpool Bike event.

                       By John Thorpe.

Once again I put pen to paper about, what would have been my 31st consecutive Manchester to Blackpool ride, almost all of which have been for Three Owls. As the more observant among you may have noticed, over the past few months, we have been inconvenienced by the pandemic. I have very strong views on the matter, which I will not bore you with here, but to say the least, I  have seen my fellow citizens behave in ways which even I, as the world's leading cynic, would not have believed possible.

The bike ride was deferred until the 13th of this month, and I only learned in the past couple of days, cancelled and deferred until next year due to concerns about 'safety'. I could write volumes on this over used word, but I won't, since I don't want to bore half of my audience and raise the blood pressure of the other half.

It's been very hard to know what to do amid all this confusion, but I made plans in case of cancellation, which of course I strongly suspected all along, and will now put them into action. A couple of weeks ago I had a ride on my motorbike to try to trace the route of the ride and commit it to memory. You would imagine after doing it for the past thirty years that I would be able to do it blindfolded, but bearing in mind that portions of it have been altered and amended over the years, and the fact that on the day there are signs and marshalls to assist you and stop you from taking a wrong turn, it isn't quite that straightforward.

The first stumbling block was that Deansgate in Manchester city centre was closed for road works, and I thus couldn't trace my usual route to the start point, close to the Man. Utd ground at old Trafford. I had to divert and got lost so joined a larger road and then motorway, coming off at Leigh to try to find the route. I did quite well, but deviated (they can't touch you for it!) before Preston and took a slightly different route. Well when I say deviated I really mean took a wrong turn, but we'll sweep that one under the rug! I found quite a lot of the route from Preston and 'deviated' again before Blackpool, so took the main road into the Las Vegas of the North and then went up to the swinging metropolis that is Fleetwood for an hour. 

I plan to start at Old Trafford and stick as closely as I can to the original route, but if I meander a bit it will just have to be put down to natural curiosity, or if you're being a bit more mean spirited, rotten navigation! Anyway, I plan, unforeseen circumstances not interfering, to sally forth on the morning of the 20th of this month. My friend Les Horton has very kindly agreed, as he has over the past few years, to go through to Blackpool and meet up with me, then bring me home, after a meal and something to drink (although I may forego that one since I'm not prepared to be 'tracked and traced' and leave my personal info. just for the sake of a drink! If my army (probably more a platoon!) of loyal supporters would like to sponsor my efforts this year I would be very grateful, and while I won't have an official certificate to show at the end of it, I will take some photos en route to prove I wasn't simply lying in bed and pretending to do the ride! The cause is exactly the same, although circumstances beyond our control have caused chaos, and I hope you will consider supporting us again this year. This will be my 31st ride, and while it's a bit more daunting to do it literally alone, I'm looking at it as a challenge. We've had challenges before and risen to them, with your help 2020 will not be the year we failed Three Owls. Thank you all in advance.

John Thorpe


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