Saturday 2 May 2015 saw the annual Steel City Downhill mountain biking event in Grenoside Woods, Sheffield. Now in its fifth year, the event attracts people from all over the UK to race their bikes on a fast technical route through the woods. It’s the brainchild of Sheffield man Steve Peat, who among other accolades is the 2009 Downhill World Champion and a triple World Cup Champion. The aim of the event is to bring people to his local trail, giving the recreational rider the opportunity to race against professional riders. The event is not for profit and run by volunteers, with all proceeds going towards trail building and maintenance of the woods.
There were 11 categories this year and entrants ranged from age 10 to 71, some racing for the first time. Out of a field of around 300 an impressive 70 women started, which is an incredibly high number for this type of event. It was also good to see that equal prize money was given for the fastest men and women.
The fastest time logged on the day was a speedy 1 minute 13 seconds from Josh Bryceland, current World Cup Downhill Champion. Others took the race at a more sedate pace, with the slowest time recorded being 2 minutes 39 seconds. There were options to either hit the jump sections at speed, or roll around to the left for a less technical route down. Whichever option was taken, it was impressive watching everybody flying down the route with either a big grin or mask of concentration on their faces!
Full results can be found here http://www.pinkbike.com/news/results-steel-city-dh-2015.html
However, Steel City Downhill is not just about the competitors. The spectators are treated to an airborne extravaganza over the jumps with the pro’s putting on a real show. In return, spectators make the maximum amount of noise possible to encourage riders. Cheering, heckling, cowbells, clanging bike frames and even the odd chainsaw were heard throughout the woods.
To keep people refreshed and entertained between races, a small village surrounded the finish line at the aptly named bomb hole. There were a range of sponsor stalls and local Sheffield based food outlets. Bradfield Brewery brought a custom beer especially for the event, selling a reported 900 litres on the day.
Steel City Downhill is a great event to attend and best of all is free of charge for spectators. It now seems firmly established on the event calendar, promoting Sheffield and living up to its nickname of “The Biggest Little Race”.