From Owen Cooper on The Big Bike Ride 11 August 2016
What an AMAZING 3 days. Some great photos and videos on Facebook to help people relive the experience. Memories that will last a good while, and ones that will no doubt inspire many of us to become more involved in working for justice for the Palestinians. This might happen through becoming a member of your local Palestine Solidarity Campaign, turning up to their events/ educational evenings, finding out more about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, buying Palestinian products, finding your way of showing solidarity, and working towards Palestinians having the same freedom and rights that we take for granted.
So much GREAT STUFF happened:
- The ride extension from Liverpool to Manchester on the Friday
- Lunch at Mike and Ann’s in Warrington with local MP and 25 riders
- Reception at the Klondyke and free buffet courtesy of Manchester PSC
- Hosting of the 17 riders needing accommodation on the Friday night
- Advance preparation with testing out the route, practice rides,
Chris producing brilliant flyers, posters, and leaflets for the public, work on press releases, creating songs for the ride, getting a supply of Taybeh Beer, offers of 5 bikes and spare TBR shirts at the
11th hour, not forgetting the very sociable planning meetings, and all the shopping by Kate, Anne, and Ellen so the refreshment stops would work. The rally in Whitworth Park jointly organised with Manchester PSC and ALL THIS BEFORE WE EVEN GOT ON OUR BIKES!
THE ACTUAL RIDE
COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY AT IT’S VERY BEST. Great support to each other throughout the 3 days, with at least 2 riders assisting another
rider if they had a puncture, and the human sign posting working better than I’ve ever seen before . We started off with 6 nominated people doing this, and finished with about 30 people taking on this role. The same with the loading and unloading of the lorry and van – luggage chains that brought back great ‘Woodcraft’ memories. Special mention to Dave and Tony for somehow squeezing 38 bikes onto the two vehicles, and not one broken spoke. So many examples of people figuring out ways to contribute, without needing to be asked. And it was so enjoyable to, with many people surprising themselves with just how well they did. We had several ” occasional riders/ urban riders” who really extended themselves, and who should feel particularly pleased with themselves. Hopefully many connections and friendships have started as a result of such a good shared experience. The reception in Stoke, collection for MECA, and evening meal with new friends was a great example of that.
Extra special mention to Ellen , who started as being the organiser of the hosting for people arriving on Friday, and taking care of registration on Saturday morning, and then became in charge of accommodation in Stoke, before returning to Manchester on Saturday night as we decided we needed an additional support vehicle for Sunday.
Who’ll forget Tom Bishop’s incredible delivery of his political poem “There’s nothing new about the News” in Stoke and again in Shenstone – the first times it has been presented in public ; or the passion and insight in Chandni’s stirring speech at Shenstone.
KEEPING IT GOING
Some specifics to add to the ideas in the opening paragraph:
i) Thursday 15th September 7.00pm at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester
Anandi, one of the riders from this year’s and last year’s Big Ride, will be giving a presentation at Manchester PSC’s monthly meeting entitled ” Contesting the Visualisation of Gaza” I will be sending round a separate flyer about this event before the end of the month, but come along to support Anandi and to increase your understanding of Palestinian issues. We will also feed back on the Big Ride to the branch – please come along with your cycle tops and meet up with friends you made on the ride.
ii) Linda and Norma, long established members of Manchester PSC ( and great cooks, as those who came to the reception at the Klondyke will know), have offered to put on a special night for The Big Ride, with a showing of a film, and a questions and answers session afterwards.
Date to be arranged and likely to be late September/ early October.
Will confirm by early September.
iii) Monthly rides in September, October and November will be organised to keep the momentum going, as well as providing the opportunity to keep in contact.
iv) Based around the numbers who turned up to planning meetings at the Red Lion, how about having a meal together in November/December?
I look forward to running into/ cycling with many of you in the coming months. It was too good an experience to not want it to continue
All the best
From Owen Cooper to Sumud Palestine 12 August 2016
Dear Jen, Angela and Sumud Palestine
I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful welcome we received into Stoke on Saturday. It was lovely to then have a beer together with the many Stoke supporters of The Big Ride in the gardens of the Halls of Residence, prior to having a meal together in the Rose of Kashmir. You did well to get so many supporters out, and the riders really appreciated that.
Thank you again and please pass on our appreciation to members of your group. We hope to meet up again
All the best
Owen – on behalf of The Big Ride