Ride Free or Die

What does it mean? It comes from Live Free or Die. So it means just that, but on bikes. Be independent, take responsibility for your own actions, look after yourself and don’t take instruction from self appointed authority figures. Ride like you want to live. Ride free or die. It’s an aspiration and a code to live by. The phrase originates with free thinkers wanting a statement that stands for something. It was used as a motto in the French Revolution and by American states keen to express their independent spirit.

What’s that got to do with going to Blackpool?

Some people think of Blackpool as a half empty plate of greasy chips. A seedy, sleazy, brash place full of boozed up stag and hen parties which is ready to chew you up, rob your pocket and spit you out. And in some ways this is the truth, but as wise people know there are always two sides to every story. Blackpool is ace if you go with the right mind and see it as a half full plate of delicious chips. The magic that Blackpool conjures for children with the bright and twinkling lights, exciting noisy rides and games, fast foods and fizzy drinks, is also there for the adult with a love of having fun.

Ride the Lights is a fabulous free event that gives cyclists a preview to the famous Blackpool illuminations before the official switch on. There is open access to the promenade and cars are banned for the night.

The end of the summer holidays and the turn of the season to autumn has always been brightened for northerners with a trip to Blackpool illuminations. The bright lights and promise of one more ice cream before the winter, have brought the crowds in for years.

Riding a bike with thousands of others under the spectacle of the lights was truly magical. No sitting in the traffic, with all the noise and fumes and in car arguments. Instead the quiet madness of a mass of bicycles. Sensible adults in hi viz vests, wide eyed children, road racing cyclists on ten grand bikes, local ragamuffins racing their supermarket bikes and BMXs, everyone was together, everyone rode free. The remarkable thing was that despite the general chaos, nothing bad seemed to happen. Cycling truly is a magical thing and it can’t help but bring people together.

Riding the Lights also goes down in HebTroCo history as the first trip out wearing a complete outfit. The 1485 Wool Jacket takes our range above the belt and is worn here with Olive GVNR trousers, Chukka Boots and a CNC Belt.

There were highlights of the night apart from the general splendour of being outside, independently powering along with nothing more than leg power. The vanilla ice cream from Notariannis on Waterloo Road was delicious, proving that simple done well is usually the best. Eating chips outside the front of the North Pier, listening to the turn belting out 70s pop classics was sweet nostalgia, strangely rousing and just hilarious. Funniest of all though was a pair of dodgems, retired presumably from service on the Pleasure Beach, cruising sedately down the Golden Mile, one containing the Pope and a nun, the other driven by PC Plod and his twin. They might not have strictly speaking been bicycles, but they were certainly riding free.

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