Ladies Aline Coaching Session

Abi Legge is the better half of our own Ruari Hallam. Here she reports back on taking the plunge with Sheffield’s finest mountain bike coach. 

Our first Women’s-only event of the year was a sold-out mountain-bike coaching session with Sheffield’s pro-coach JJ* from ALine Coaching. Due to the bespoke nature of the course, it meant that each rider took away new techniques to improve their riding and boost confidence for when tackling challenging Peak terrain. As usual, sorry for the lack of pics – we were too busy having fun!

Abi, Becka, Charlie, Lizzie, Sophie, Dani, JJ

Abi, Becka, Charlie, Lizzie, Sophie, Dani, JJ

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Girls Give BMX a Go

Girls Give BMX a Go

So, Abi has commandeered my computer again and written about a recent trip she organised to a fairly local BMX track. Cycling can be enjoyed on a variety of wheel sizes (although, 26″ is definitely the most fun) and many useful skills can be transferred from one type of riding to the next. It can sometimes be surprising how many girls are out there who can be rallied together for a ride so it’s always worth getting the word out there. I was sacked from photography duties this time as my phone clearly wasn’t up to the job for the Parkwood Springs coaching session so all photos are kindly provided by Chris Ratcliff. Take it away, Abi!:

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Ladies First

Ladies First

It’s been a long while since I last posted anything (and the majority of the words here aren’t mine either…). Anyway, the other week was a pretty big deal for the female contingent of the University of Sheffield cycling club. The club has grown in recent years meaning it is now possible for the women’s captain, Abi, to have any girls to captain…

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From a previous trip. Banger by Duncan Philpott


It’s the last week of 2012, the weather is typically wet but abnormally warm. Danny ‘Widehead’ Whitehead (my very good friend who’s been studying in America since the summer), Dave ‘shit line choice’ Camus and myself decided to do something a bit different. After much persuasion and being asked “Are you on crack?” I managed to sway them into riding somewhere that wasn’t a busy trail centre or muddy, boggy local XC loop.

Instead we went to Snowdon.
Why, you might ask, did we choose to do this? It may be without the dust, jumps, tree cover, bright sunshine or chairlifts and gondolas of the alps but for some reason it gives just as good a buzz but without driving for 24 hours and splashing a load of cash.

The Ranger Path is not designed for anything more than plastic walking boots from your local outdoor store so the trail does have a few sneaky rocks which you don’t see until the last second, especially when trying to go flat out and holding a straight line rather than weaving around to avoid obstacles.
There are flat out and wide open sections where you’re hopping over rocks hoping that there’s not something jagged on the landing. Other sections are slower and rockier but still quite wide so staying off of the brakes and skipping over holes is much easier than trying to take each hit as it comes. Other sections have a few flat or off-camber corners with loose gravel but also banked, almost switchback sections which allow you to feel like you’re on a proper track. The very last section, known as Mordor, is much slower and involves picking lines to make it through without catching your front wheel on a gap between boulders and being pitched over the bars.

From a previous trip. Banger by Duncan Philpott

The combination of high speed at the top and slow, tech stuff at the bottom make it feel like you have the variation of tracks like bike parks in France, Italy, etc. Perhaps not quite as much variety but it’s better than nothing. Also, weather conditions can definitely spice it up a little. 50-60mph winds, snow, ice and cloud cover definitely alter the experience a touch as Danny, Dave and I found out on the penultimate day of 2012. As we were pushing up we spotted at least 3 people with crampons attached to their boots and rucksacks full of survival gear, yet all we had were five tens on our feet and sandwiches in our bags.

As we neared the summit the wind picked up, it was the strongest I’d felt for a long time, and we didn’t think we’d be able to ride at all from the summit to the start of the Ranger path. Climbing to the top, we stopped for brief periods when the bikes were almost being blown from our hands and crouched when we were being toppled over. The view wasn’t spectacular although we didn’t plan on staying long as cold and numb hands aren’t ideal when trying to descend a mountain.

Due to the conditions we doubted it’d even be possible to ride. Every attempt at trying to walk with the bike on a slippery surface in high wind would almost put you on your arse. However, once we’d set off and had enough momentum to stay up it was an amazing feeling. Leaning into the wind to stay on course, the tyres having just enough grip to counteract the moment and not disappear from beneath you. Every now and then the wind would pick up an extra 5-10 mph and you’d slide from the left to the right without even steering in that direction. Seemingly easy sections on previous visits were made all that more challenging so the feeling of accomplishment for making it through the top section with just a couple of dabs on the thicker sheets of ice was much greater.

Once we had made it over the railway track and further down the Ranger path we dropped out of the cloud line and there was less ice. The trail was now riding like on previous experiences, still a bit damp but when only making a few direction changes this isn’t much of an issue. The wind speed was still quite high until we reached the lower third of the mountain, until then you had to try and keep both wheels on the ground to prevent the front wheel being swiped away by a side wind. This is more difficult than it sounds though as there are boulders just asking to be hopped off and over. The last section of the main descent is known as Mordor and contains a few surprises with it being a steep, narrowly cut path with rocks of all shapes and sizes littering it. Every time I’ve come to this section I’ve somehow managed to make it through blind. Once we reached the end of it cleanly Dave and myself couldn’t resist a cheesy high five…

‘Mordor’. Banger credit: Duncan ‘Dirt cover’ Philpott

The gradient of the Ranger path levels out so a short pedal is required. To make it back down to correct side of the mountain a short push is required to reach the start of the ‘Telegraph Valley descent’. A flatout section of track with rocky drainage ditches that you’re hoping at around 35mph (according to strava…) and one or two flat corners. This leads you onto a road taking you straight back into the heart of Llanberis.

Peaty’s Steel City Downhill 2012

The race reports are coming in thick and fast from all over (even the national newspapers are getting in on it) so I thought I’d best get on with mine before it becomes unfashionable.

As a child of the modern era I often overuse superlatives to describe something that probably doesn’t warrant it, e.g. “these yum yums are sensational”, when they’re actually mediocre at best. However, the Steel City Downhill is amazing! Pure class! Absoluuuutely fan-tastic!

Let me explain why:

It’s the pinnacle of mates racing in Sheffield – Everybody knows everybody and this makes the atmosphere tingle with excitement as the next rider down is one of your best mates or some cool lad you met on the trails in and around Sheffield. I remember being stood at the start ramp and cheering off a good majority of riders not just by shouting “pedal!” but “pedal JJ!” or “smash it Duncan!” or “Biggin’s a cunt!”.

It’s a race and it’s in Sheffield – It would be rude not to head along.

Steve Peat is there (not at Sea Otter!) – Can’t beat chilling with a legend.

There’s a big turnout from all categories – These races have been a complete sellout. There was also the addition of the ripper category who put many, more senior, riders to shame with their mad skills.

Rob Jolley smashed the shit out of a dog bowl, not literal shit, in the name of heckling – I’m pretty sure he shotgunned his marshal point next to the gap jump of doom before the track had even been dug.

The sendorrrrs!

Team Paige Palin, FTW

One footer on the sendorrr from Joe Camus. Photo credit to Jack Smith.

I could go on…

For me, the run up to the race started about a month ago on the first dig day. A big group of volunteers turned out to make the course what it was. They were rewarded with lunch and a brand new track. It’s great to know how easy it is to get a group of people together who work very hard shifting boulders and digging at the earth like there are diamonds buried beneath. Without them the race would have been impossible.

From here the track was left to bed in and bake hard in the summer of spring 2012, only to be drenched in the last couple of weeks in the floods of 2012… In the days running up to the event there were a few modifications and finishing touches to make a track ready to get many miles of rubber chucked down her by the Sheffield massive.

How did it go?:
For me? Terrible… I had two shocking runs, missing lines, losing momentum (which was vital to do well on this track, especially the section leading up to the hip jump before the sweet berms near the bottom), and breaking my bike. However, looking back I realize that none of that matters. I still had an excellent day, missing out on doing as many practice runs as I could because I’d seen someone else I wanted to chat to. Also, I definitely consider myself to be among the elite of hecklers. Only beaten by my mate Phil (who took a wheel to the face after a rider took a stack and the bike was catapulted into Phil… Karma?) who was calling upon the crowd to perform Mexican waves, dance routines and silent cheers as riders rode by.


Cheers for this pic Tom Richards!

For the organizers? From what I understand it was spot on, big success. No one majorly injured, few timing issues, big support from the spectators and NO RAIN (on the day…)!

There are many pictures and a few video edits of the race emerging thick and fast so have a look out. I’ll add a list of links at the bottom of this article of anything that has taken my fancy.

This one is pretty rad!:

A good write-up from Mr. Horscroft who, I’m sure many people will agree, is an excellent fellow:

This report, from Tom Richards, is on the front page of pinkbike. Contains photos and a vid:

Also, many of you will have seen this article on The Guardian. Big stuff for Sheffield!:

Matt H Servicing

UPDATE: All contact and service details can be found on Matts Website:

This is just a bit of a plug for the side venture of a friend of mine, Matthew Holland. If you want your suspension, disc brakes, or wheels servicing he’s the man!

Matt has completed and attained Cytech3 qualifications for both Hydraulics and Suspension and is based in the Crookes area of Sheffield. He knows his stuff and his cheap rates, reliability, and (best of all!) locality make him a much better option than sending your fork or shock off for a basic service to Mojo or TFtuned. You can leave your bike with him or you can watch him work in his garage and have a good natter.
We highly recommend him! (Myself and Duncan have used his services on numerous occasions)

Fork bits innit.

Look at the shiny shiny.

To get in touch with Matt give him a ring on 07792318143 or email him at His price list is here.

If you have any doubts about his expertise then read these articles written by him on how suspension forks work:
…and a how-to guide on servicing 2010 Boxxer Teams:

Partying and Racing, HOBO Style.

More specifically, dual racing in Swinny’s field followed by the 4 B’s: BBQ, Bonfire, Booze and Banging tunes!

Aim: to celebrate the end of the Spring/Summer series or just summer in general and to mark the start of the autumn series.

Tim Pearson clearing the track.

We kicked off with the dual practice and racing. The track didn’t follow the normal layout of just weaving through electric fence posts. Well, it was partly that but it also included some other features; one berm with a PODtential kicker out of it on one line and a solitary kicker on the other. The higher, right-hand line was marginally quicker as the lower line had a long off-camber right which led slightly uphill into a tight left. The courses recombined near the bottom with the possibility of some carnage as a drifty left-hander on the inside line before the finish could have led to a collision if the racing was tight.

Copyright infringement?

Craig Evans of This is Stocksbridge.

So, the racing. I enjoyed it so I’ll try and go through my experience of it as best I can. Numbers were dealt at random as usual and I was pitched against Nick for my first race. Racing Nick always seems to fill me with apprehension, especially after the incident at the speedway where he used his foot to dislodge a local youth from an upright position. I made a slight balls-up braking too much in a corner where I hadn’t even touched them in practice so pushed on the bottom turns. Meters from the line, however, Nick went too hot into the drifty left-hander and his front wheel washed out from under him so I just had to finish my next run without crashing.
Next up I faced Chris Pearson after he knocked his brother out in the 1st round. I started on the inside line on this occasion and had an OK run. However, Chris had a pretty brutal and mysterious over-the-bars crash not far from the end so again I just had to not crash on my 2nd run.
Progressing into the final, I faced Swinny who had knocked out James Crossland and Craig in prior rounds (A TiSheff victory over TiStocksbridge). The pressure was on as Swinny was on home soil and had been looking quick all night, as always. I had a promising start with a then joint fastest time (set by Will Swinden) on the right-hand line.

Final run, the light was fading and the moon(s) was starting to appear. I pedalled as much as I could out of the start and had loads of speed round the off-camber right, back on the pedals and staying low over the jump and round the last few turns to the finish. I tried to stay tight and smooth instead of hanging it out as I just didn’t trust my tyres to grip. Crossing the line, Swinny had smashed the previous fastest run by half a second. After a bit of number crunching though, my run down the left line was 0.6 of a second quicker than Swinny’s time on the left line. I’d won (finally!) by 0.1 of a second, bang tidy.

Swinny and Ruari, finish line.

Tight racing!


Round by round.


Next up was an XC eliminator race titled “The Devil Takes Hind”, dreamt up by Nick in what seemed just a few seconds (he’s always sprouting ideas for a race). The idea was to have a mass start to a small loop in the field, however at the end of each lap the person in last place was eliminated. Starting from the front I went round the berm used in the dual, sprinted a bit but content with my win in the dual gave up and gooned across the line to be eliminated straight away. Swinny stayed in the middle of the pack to conserve his energy but powered away in the closing laps to redeem himself and take the win, followed by Nick in 2nd and Tim in 3rd. Everyone else knows where they came though.

WTF, Lee?!

Lee's attire for the eliminator was interesting.

Party time! The sun was fading so the bonfire was lit to provide warmth and light. Sausages and burgers were sizzling on the barbecue and thirsts were being quenched by cans of booze. Nick introduced another game, this time a bottle of rum was the source of the fun. Based on how well you’d done in previous rounds of the spring series you had to down a certain number of lid fulls of rum, 1 for 5th place, 2 for 4th, 3 for 3rd, etc. Unlucky for Swinny, he’d won a fair few so had at least 20 caps of rum although this went to waste after a tactical vom.
We are a competitive bunch of people so the games continued. Next up was a bunny hop contest to see who could hop the highest, simple although made difficult by the lack of light and the consumption of alcohol which impeded judgment (although lack of skill was more my excuse). Swinden senior’s use of lighter fluid did help to illuminate the bar. Swinny somehow managed to go over the bars, although he did clear the height of the bar so was allowed to continue. The eventual winner was Will Swinden who managed to hop roughly the height of his stem, so not a bad set of results for the Swinden family.

You're doing it wrong, Dunc...

Duncan's attempt

The next competition was not related to bikes, more your ability to lift a large log just using the palms of your hands. I’m not sure who the eventual winner of this was although I think Alex Owen put his arborist skills to good use to post a reasonable number of lifts. This didn’t impress me enough though as when asked by him if I’d marry him or Rob Jolley I plucked for Jolley… how could I refuse?
By 1am the fire started to die down and there was no more fuel to add to it. After a tough evening of being manly it was time for everyone to retire to the warmth of the Swinden abode (if you were lucky), or to your bivvy bag (if you were Nick). Not before a dip in a pond though.

Many thanks to Swinny, Alex, Jolley, Tim and Ol for their hard work setting up the track and the beauty of a berm/kicker they constructed. To Mr and Mrs “Swinny” for letting us use the field, not just on this occasion, and for bringing Will and James into the world… Also to Henry Norman and Martin Baker for timing the dual.

It wouldn't have been the same without fire.

Some more pics from Duncan here.

Until next time!

Sun(burn), Sea and Sand

Whilst everyone else was away in some far off land (excluding Dunc who’s back home in Hemel) I was camping in a tent literally a stone’s throw away, depending on the tide, from the sea on the Pembrokeshire coast.

I brought the Rune along although I didn’t get a chance to ride it all that often as flying kites, eating ice cream, lying in the sun and swimming in the sea were occupying pretty much all of my time. Also, the awesome weather plus the after effect of falling asleep in the sun led to a bit of sunburn which made the rest of the week slightly uncomfortable.

Some right nice views…

However, I did get a couple of chances to ride. Like a true camper I hit the horizontal just before sunset and awoke when it rose again. Early on the first morning I set off along the coastal path at about 6am, rode 11 or 12 miles to the city of St. Davids (smallest city in the UK with a population of around 1,800!) to find a bakery then returned home with the goods at about 8 to find everyone still asleep…

There was one good section to ride not far from the campsite. It was pretty flat out, narrow and loose with a load of long steps cut in, gauze bushes either side and a 40 foot drop to the sea if I went off course and rag-dolled over the edge. I persuaded my twin bro to film a few clips at about 8am on the last day just before we had to pack everything up ready to leave so apologies for the quality of this video (we had literally 10 minutes). Also, he didn’t really know how to use my camera so the aperture was wide open making the depth of field a bit shite and there’s some glare which messes up the colours. Also, I’m no Joe Bowman or Duncan Philpott when it comes to editing stuff, ahhh well… enjoy!:

One thing before I go, my twin brother (Pat) will be walking 268 miles in the next two weeks along the Pennine Way to fundraise for Cancer Reasearch UK. If you have any spare cash then you can sponsor him here:

Student Life Is Tough

Student life is tough… naaaat!

This is my second post of the day. After two days of digging a new track, one night at Corporation, two days riding and all with a touch of man flu I thought I deserved a day off from anything bike related.
So I’m going to talk about riding bikes…
I finished my uni exams just over a week ago so I’m pretty free until lectures start again in September. I’ve had quite a bit more free time so I this is what I’ve been up to:

Night ride to Mam Tor – Aim: ride to Mam Tor and arrive in time to see the sunrise.

Sheffield Glow

Not too shabby...

Not bad like.

yeah buddy!

Riding at Blackamoor. This has been pretty standard over the last couple of weeks.

Top secret riding spot. All you’re getting is a picture and a sentence. This track is pretty natural and full of off-camber and loamy goodness mixed with high speed, the stuff of dreams basically.
sshhh, it's a secret

And to end. This is what I was listening to at the point of posting:

Bikes On A Budget

It’s fair to say that when you like riding bikes you like to ride nice bikes. This usually means spending lots of money…

The cost of having such an expensive whip caught up with me so I was forced to make the tough decision and downgrade from my 224 Evo with a Cane Creek shock, Boxxer Team fork, Saint brakes, etc. Gutted!

So, the search was on for something 2nd hand that was fairly cheap but durable enough to stand up to the beating I would unleash upon it. Straight away I looked at frames which have less travel but still a relatively slack head angle, the popular Specialized Pitch sprung to mind. There’s a reason these bikes are so common: good angles; nice looks; light weight; and durable. But… you’re still looking at spending £400 for one in an okay condition. This doesn’t sound like much to some but I knew I could go cheaper still.

After searching on the numerous internet forums (*vomit*) and ebay I still couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Until, Duncan Philpott discovered an almighty bargain on ebay at 1am on a Sunday morning, a Banshee Rune anodised black with a DHX Air 5.0 shock in mint condition for £275. I couldn’t say no!

Here it is, not the best quality picture but you get the idea:

A few weeks later and I’m well on the way to getting grips with how it handles. When deciding on the kind of bike I wanted I knew it had to have between 140 and 160mm of travel. The Rune has 150mm of travel, perfect! For me, the sensation of riding a bike isn’t about overall speed, it’s about being as close to crashing as possible whilst still maintaining control and pushing the limits of grip. The Orange was a nice bike to ride but I don’t yet have the balls or skill to ride it on the “edge”. Another reason for having a bike with less travel is to have something easier to pedal allowing me to access trails which I would otherwise have to be driven to (not that I would ever say no to a lift…).

So, am I enjoying my time on the Banshee?

Loam Explosion!

Hell yeah! However, there are still a few changes I would like to make to enhance my experience even more. First of all, the DHX Air shock isn’t great. I need to run it at quite a high pressure to prevent it from bottoming out quite so much, however, this reduces the amount of sag. Also, I often blow through the travel on my quite shagged pikes (if you’ve seen them you’ll know how bad they are) so this combination on the steeper stuff can make the head angle pretty terrifying. Solution: Get a coil shock and a better, longer fork! Once that is done I’m pretty sure this bike will fly down a hill with ease. And I cannot wait.

On a side note: I thought it would be a good idea (let me know if you think otherwise) if I posted a youtube clip of either the song I’m listening to when it comes to publishing an article, a song I like at the moment or just something funny at the end of my posts…
Can’t go wrong with a bit of Del Boy.


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