Steel City Downhill Mountainbike Series

 

The Steel City Downhill Mountainbike Series is organised by ThisIsSheffield.co.uk  and 2009 World Champion, Steve Peat.  The first round went down near Steve's home in Greno Woods, just north of Sheffield city on Saturday 5th March.  Billed as a 'mini-DH' on a two minute track, the event was designed to appeal to first-time racers and pros alike.  The field was surprisingly stacked for a short, pedally DH, with the likes of Josh Bryceland, Chris Akrigg, Jess Stone and of course, Peaty himself, all signing up to race.  In fact, most categories had sold out within the first day of entries going online!  It also attracted a heap of spectators, which made for a fantastic atmosphere.

 

Seve Peat's Steel City Downhill Mountain Bike Series
Picture courtesy of www.callumt.co.uk

 

In the women's category, novice racers were thrown in with the elites which made for a huge field of 14 riders.  The vibe of the event was very laid back, but with so many entrants, there was sure to be some good competition and I was a bit apprehensive as it was only my second race and I had no idea how fast everyone else would be.  I knew that my Santa Cruz Butcher was going to be near enough the perfect bike to take on this type of track, with just enough travel to take the sting out of the rocks and roots, but easy to pedal and carry speed.

The track initially looked fairly flat but is actually quite flowy and is super fun to ride in the wet (the weather man assured us it'd be dry but as usual, this turned out to be a lie!).  It started off in the trees, with a straight that allowed us to hit the pedals hard and get some speed up, before the choice of a right-hand berm/rut or some whoops to negotiate before heading out into the open and through a twisty rocky section, then re-entering the forest, through some rooty sections, a few more rocks and down to the fun pair of berms that set you up for the last epic pedal before you took a chute or a drop into the finish.  The atmosphere at the finish was mint, with plenty of people cheering the riders on as they dropped in.

In practice, I rode with Josh Lewis, Josh Bryceland, Tom Kelly and Michael Vickers who all shared some sneaky lines they'd found with me.  Cheers fellas!!  I did six or seven full practice runs, which was probably overkill for this track, and with hindsight it might have been better to save more energy for my race runs, but I was so amped to race that I didn't really give it much thought.  My category was starting second-to-last, so I had a long wait before my first run.  Up at the start everyone was friendly and encouraging each other - it was a really cool atmosphere.  That's not to say the racing wasn't competitive!  I made a few mistakes on the top section but crossed the line in third, behind Emily Horridge and Jess Stone, so I was pretty stoked with that!  By the time everyone was down the hill, I'd slipped to fourth - just off the podium and definitely not where I wanted to be.  It's funny, if someone had asked me the day before if I would have been happy with 4th place I would have said yes – I was worried I was worried I might come last!

 

Now I was so close though, I was fired up and ready to give it everything in my second run to try and close that gap to third place.  It wasn't to be and I had to console myself with finally managing to hit the drop into the finish, which I'd be rolling all day in practice.

 

Steve Peat Steel City Downhill Mountain Bike Series 2

Picture courtesy of www.callumt.co.uk

After the podiums, most people headed out into Sheffield to watch the Alex Rankin movie 'Progression' which chronicled the Sprung and Earthed video series.  It was a top night that gave the 'yoofs' an MTB history lesson and for everyone else, brought back memories of anodized purple bars and cantilever brakes.  Some of the funniest scenes were the parties that went down in the 90s and Peaty and Warner got up on stage afterwards to take questions and give each other banter about the crazy times they've shared.  After the film, it was an early night for me to get ready for the drive to Moelfre the next day, whilst the rest of the Steve Peat Syndicate crew got led astray by Josh Bryceland out in Sheffield! 

Thanks to the organisers for putting on a cracking race, the MIJ boys for their properly slick timing operation (we finished racing early - when does that ever happen?!), the crowd who turned out despite the grim northern weather to cheer us on and all the SPS boys for making it such a weekend to remember.  The first of many, I'm sure.

 

Jenny Besley

adad
Web site design by GVC