A Short history of Sheffield’s MTB Scene
I was very pleased to be asked to write a piece for Redbull/bike to promote Sheffield and the Howard Street Dual. I’m a massive fan and very thankful for their coverage of the Downhill world Cup, literally the only sport I watch on TV. They wanted a potted history of the Sheffield Bike scene in 600 words, from mates races to the howard st dual, what follows is my first go. I wrote a more in-depth piece years ago for Dirt working with Grant Robinson to document what was going on in with bikes in sheffield in 2011.
All images Sam McQueen unless specified
A short history of the Sheffield MTB scene – from mates races to the Howard Street Dual
I’ve been running mates races around Sheffield for a many years. It started back on a misty November weekend on a DH track me and my mates used to session. We met up with a stopwatch and a pair of mobile phones, that’s literally all it took. Everyone loved it and wanted to do it again and from there, things grew quickly. The 4th time we ran the race 40 people entered including one world cup champion. From this acorn spawned the This is Sheffield winter dual slalom series which has been running since 2010 and countless ridiculous ideas for races which just had to be made reality: Megadeath, TryAwfulOn, Two pint time trial, Hardcore Hartails, Mini Bike jousting, Gravity racers, Special Olympics, the list goes on. In the city the dual mates racing ethos goes way back to the late nineties at the Sheffield Ski Village with the legendary Iron Justice. What’s brought it together are a group of likeminded souls (mountain bikers) and the opportunities (radness) Sheffield offers to ride our bikes on all kinds of different terrain.
Sheffield seems to get more than its fair share of attention in the mountain bike sphere. There’s a lot going off, its well documented on social and established media and we have a very solid base on which to build; so perhaps it’s not really that surprising? We’re the fifth largest city in the UK with a population in excess of half a million people but also the greenest city in England. We have more trees per capita than anywhere else. Like Rome, Sheffield is nestled within 7 hills; this topography provides a perfect playground for mountain bikes and the treasured trails, from Greno to Bolehills to Rother Valley. Sheffield is also unique in that a third of it lies within the Peak District National Park; no other city has a national park within its borders and all the riding opportunities that offers. All this makes Sheffield the Outdoor City and a great escape from city life.
We’re very lucky to have a figure head like Steve Peat who’s so generous with his time and energy to catalyse and build on the opportunities we already have. He’s not alone though, bikes lay dormant without people and it is they that make the difference. Ride Sheffield are at the official end of the spectrum, a proactive trail advocacy group representing the interests of riders within officialdom and making new trails happen; Lady Canning’s and the soon to be Radmires. Sheffield City council has been forward thinking thanks to our friends on the inside like Jon Dallow who managed the building of Parkwood springs, the first inner city trail centre which now even features the Mayors dual track. At the Hide Sheffield end of the Spectrum, Wharncliffe woods has been regenerated in to a paradise of trails by the (née) Clayspades and 50:01 crews with similar pockets of goodness to be found elsewhere. With great bike brands based here and an excellent range of bike shops, both independent and chain, the commercial side is also well taken care of.
Howard Street Dual
For a city with all these credentials we have a dearth of actual mountain bike races, there’s only Peatys Steel City DH and an annual XC at Parkwood to choose from. The Howard Street Dual is a spectacular event showcasing the excitement of head to head mountain bike racing through the streets of Sheffield captivating unsuspecting passers-by. The course utilizes some of the best landscape design for racing bikes on to form the centrepiece of the Outdoor City weekender. It has a stack of great features sendable by the best and rollable by all, mixing man made constructions with street furniture, flat grass corners and custom wooden features to provide thrilling parallel racing. The best racers will go from fist bumps to victory in front of the assembled crowds, the depth of riding talent will bring gasps from on lookers with nail biting finishes and elbow to elbow racing.
If you can’t make it down on the day the whole race will be live streamed for your armchair enjoyment http://thisisheffield.co.uk/2018/live-stream/