The Steel City Mini Downhill is rapidly establishing itself as a fixture on the Sheffield mountain bike scene. Originally run at least in part to help Sheffield Wildlife Trust buy the woods, the fact that all the entries were snapped up within a couple of hours of the website going live is testament to how popular it's become.
The crowd gathers at the 2012 Steel City Mini Downhill.
In 2011, the weather was a big factor with rain turning parts of the track into a bog and it looked at one point as if the same fate would befall this year's event. However, to everyone's delight, the sun shone, the crowds came and the buzz was phenomenal. 200 competitors came to take on the newly constructed track through Grenoside Woods. Even though more than an inch of rain had fallen in the previous two days, the track held up well thanks to hard work from Bike Track trail builders and a dedicated band of volunteers. Table-tops, doubles, berms and a big gap jump ensured this was not a track to be taken lightly and the now traditional drop into the cauldron like bomb-hole at the finish was a fitting finale.
The grand finale to the Mini Downhill included a bomb-hole drop in to the finish.
Conditions changed as the day wore on and initially, the track was pretty wet but fast. As the day progressed the wind and sun did its job, the mud began to thicken to the consistency of porridge and the cries of "Pedal!" rang out through the forest. So intense was the effort that any number of competitors could be found at the finish lungs heaving.
The author pushing hard at the top of the course.
Spectator hot-spots included the aforementioned gap jump, where marshall Rob Jolley had little trouble working the crowds into a frenzy. The final section of berms and hip jumps was also popular but as the Pro class completed their runs, it was the bomb hole and finishing line that became the focus of attention. Fuelled on Bradfield Brewery ale, an enormous crowd whipped up a storm as the final few riders hucked into the finish and the combined efforts of Steve Peat, Ride Sheffield and This is Sheffield were rewarded with a day to remember. Fittingly, it was Steve Peat who won in a time of 1min 25secs.
Peaty rode as you'd expect a world champion to do so, clearing the course in 1min 25secs.
As one of the competitors, I'd like to thank Steve Peat, Henry Norman of Ride Sheffield, Joe Bowman and Nick Hamilton of This Is Sheffield, the Sheffield Wildlife Trust and all the sponsors for a brilliant day. Most of all though, a massive thank you to the marshalls who stayed at their posts through thick and thin keeping the riders safe.
A rider enters the top of the bomb-hole drop.
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