After a hiatus thanks to all the predictable reasons, Steel City DH was back for its tenth edition, with Peaty’s Products as the headline sponsor – possibly superfluous when the even is already indelibly associated with Steve Peat.
A moment of madness/being in possession of a test bike that really deserves to be ridden hard saw me enter what would be my first proper downhill race. In fact, Roots and Rain offers a detailed look at my narrow racing career:
2014 – A midweek XC race, which was in fact my 3rd proper mountain bike ride ever. I took my new Whyte 901 – one of the slackest ‘hardcore hardtails’ around at the time, I came second, but only two of us actually finished the race, so that probably doesn’t count. I’ve still got the Altura jersey I bought with my winnings (it witnessed my first night ride, and my first steri-strips. So many firsts).
2017 – RedBull Foxhunt. Once I’d figured out the lines in practice I actually did pretty well in seeding, but the mass start carnage freaked me out completely and I spent much of my race run on the ground. I resolved never to do another mass start event. The bruises were epic. The Ion trousers I raced in are still going, and I can still fit into them. Every little win counts.
2022 – Steel City…
The itch to try a downhill race started when reading all the Making Up The Numbers race reports, and reached an irresistible cleg bite when I went to watch the Innerleithen round of the British Nationals last year. I thought that maybe I could at least get down that course, if not actively race it, and that the process of forcing myself down some stuff that’s not my usual local trails would probably make me a better rider in the long run.
And so it was that I found myself getting up at 5.30am and loading my Canyon Torque test bike onto the car for the trip to Sheffield. We’d got 10 minutes down the road before I established that I’d left my second coffee sitting, all warm and cosy and delicious, in the kitchen. I tried not to see this as a portent of doom and resisted the urge to go back for it.
Parking, sign on and all that jazz was easy and efficient and there was coffee for sale in the parking field. Crisis averted, though perhaps I wasn’t quite awake yet for the track walk as I didn’t notice the bomb hole at the end. On my first practice run I stopped before the end, thinking I’d finished, and then ended up rolling down the B-line to finished the course. Second practice lap – after a long pause while an injured rider was attended to – I nearly went over the gap jumps further up and had to stop to go back up and around onto the B-line. A close call.
The new track felt fast and sendy – hit the berms at the speed I’m capable of and I’d hit a sendy jumpy feature and get airborne at a speed and trajectory I’m not capable of. There’s no let up, making it an intense course despite its groomed smooth surface relative lack of actual downhill-ness. If you take the B-lines, it’s all totally rollable, but you’d have to drag your brakes the entire way to keep your wheels on the ground. I resolved to remember not to hit the gap jumps, try to get a clean run in, and not fly off into the trees.
Race run 1 went OK – I was boosted by someone in the crowd shouting an approving ‘yes!’ as I cleared the first table – but I managed to end up cruising stupidly slowly through a series of berms so I knew I could go faster. The second run I nearly forgot about those gap jumps again, and had to slam on the brakes to get onto the B-line. Apologies for the very loud swear words that I uttered as I pedalled desperately trying to get back up to speed.
It was about this point that I might have discovered that maybe I do like racing. Cross at myself for screwing up, I tried to make up time in the second half of the track, running a slightly ragged edge at times. I clearly remember a moment of wondering if the berm was going to hold me or if I was going to fly off into the trees, and an ‘oooh’ sound effect from the crowd suggested they were thinking the same. Somehow I held it together, sprinted over the line, and ended up 3rd overall in my age category.
Yes, I am very pleased with that. Yes, I may have worn my medal home.
I’d 100% recommend heading to the newly built track to have a play – it’s a great place to practice berms and jumps. Hats off to the trail builders (Farmer Johns and James Pettitt) – especially for a brand new track in really dry conditions, it held up incredibly well. There’s more trail work going on in the woods there, so check out Ride Sheffield to see what else is happening.
If you can get comfortable with a little air time, it’s a really fun race. Not the easiest of tracks to try and ride deliberately fast on, but the atmosphere, spectators all the way down the track and nice mix of food/beer/music/products in the arena gave it the feel of a fun day out. The rider goodie bag felt like good value for the entry fee – a nice glass, some nice beer, socks, chain lube sample, and a couple of other little bits and pieces, all in a handy cotton tote bag. Plus, of course, the whole thing is a not for profit exercise with the funds raised going back into the woods there. You’re winning whether you set foot on the podium or not.
Thanks to everyone who made it a fun day out, here’s the official press release below.
Peaty’s Products Steel City DH 2022
All photos courtesy of Ryan Franklin photo and Monster Energy.
It’s important to stay hydrated on a sunny day.
After 3 long years it was finally time to get the band back together in Greno Woods for the 10th anniversary of the biggest little race. It’s been a long time coming for all involved, but the general view was it was the best one ever. The weather was amazing, never has Sheffield seen so much dust! As ever the race is run on a not for profit basis and all funds raised are used to support the trails and bike projects around the Sheffield area. Greno woods are owned and managed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust to whom we owe huge thanks for all they do including letting mountain bikers have these trails in the woods.
This year thanks to the huge work of Ride Sheffield there was a brand new, untouched trail waiting for those who were racing. £40k is being invested into the trails by Ride Sheffield using funds from another delayed project, rider donations and some money from the race. This work has been 2 years in the planning but Covid and other things have slowed it down. All the racers and those who’ve seen the trail in the flesh are in awe of the work done by the dig team. Huge thanks to the trail building team, John Thorpe (aka Farmer John), James Pettitt, Ollie Hindley, Alex Bourekas, and Joao Francisco for the work of art they’ve built for us in the woods. If you’d like to see more you can support the work Ride Sheffield Does by donating here.
Trail, crowd and arena all in one.
On to the racing, with ages from 10 to 78, just under 20% of the field being ladies and around 30% being 18 or under the race manages to cover a broad spectrum of riders from all over the country who come to take part in our biggest little race. The cheers are loud for all the riders, whoever they are, the crowd do a great job of supporting them all the way down the track to the awesome bombhole finish area. Huge thanks to all those who came out to the event to support our little race and all the guys giving it their all to go that little bit faster.
From the youngest….
78 years young Pat Horscroft.
In the pro categories Chloe Taylor managed to repeat her 2019 win taking home over £500 in cash for Five Ten fastest time of the day, Spectre Screws Speed trap fastest speed and also the Lasses Pro cash, not bad for a days work! Second went to Manon Carpenter back to racing for the only the third time in 5 years who was close but a crash near the start on her second run mean it was Chloe’s on the day. Third place went to local Anya Tolwinska.
Pro ladies spraying the champagne like they mean it.
The pro mens category had 27 riders battling it out to take top spot, Peaty, winner of the last race Marc Beaumont, Phil Atwill, Ratboy, Craig Evans, Sam Dale, Ben “oi oi” Deakin and Ike Klassen and Theo Erlangsen (both invited along for the race by supporter and long term sponsor of Peaty’s Monster Energy as well as a bunch of others all gave it everything to get the win.
Trail build crew, Cannondale waves and 50to01.
After first runs the podium was made up of Craig Evans in the lead, Luke Knight in second and Theo Erlangsen in third who were covered by only 0.8 seconds. With it all to play for in second runs Evans and Knight couldn’t beat their first run times, Phil Atwill who’d been looking crazy fast and smooth all day managed fast enough for 3rd, Craig’s first run time secured him 2nd but the winner by a mere 0.08 of a second was Theo Erlangsen (who’s mum had been emailing the organisers all morning to try and find a way to watch the race or results live to see how he got on). Slugger Beaumont took the speed trap cash clocking nearly 36mph through the Spectre Screws speed trap.
Your winner, Theo Erlangsen.
The boys looking a little soggy post champagne spraying podium.
With 15 categories across all ages and genders it’d take an age to talk about them all in any detail but well done to anyone who managed to do enough to podium in their group, we all know for most people all that really matters is beating your mates so to those who got nothing but bragging rights great work.
Thanks go out to all those who make it happen, firstly the organising team Si Bowns, Henry Norman, Nick Hamilton, Steve Hardcastle and some bloke called Steve Peat, secondly those who help us deliver the race, marshals, Pearce Cycles for timing, Woodhead Mountain Rescue for providing medical cover and our Commissaires, thirdly all our exhibitors and caterers for giving folks shiny things to look at and buy, some great day special deals and discounts, awesome things to eat and keeping the crowd well lubricated with coffee and beer and lastly all of our amazing sponsors for providing great prizes for racers and donating to the race pot.
Craig Evans looking lit and lanky.
This years sponsors were:
Peaty’s Products title sponsor of the race, could it have been anyone else?
Santa Cruz Bikes, 6th Element Wheels, Five Ten Shoes, Airdrop Bikes and Spectre Screws headed up our race sponsors with categories supported by all those below meaning all those lucky enough to finish on the podium ended up with great prizes to take home.
Leighton Vans, 60 Sticks, Renthal, Viris goggles, Broken Riders Clothing, Cotic Bikes, 50to01, Fox Clothing, G Form protection, Tony Butterworths Cycles, The Bikes College, Burgtec, Trek Sheffield and Expert Bike Repair.
The expo area around the bombhole was busier than ever.
Ratboy looking stylish.
The crowds in the lower turns.
See you all next year!
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