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Parkwood Springs MTB Trail Sheffield

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Every now and then I get a bit bored of riding. It’s not biking that I get bored of per se, it’s just that riding the same sort of stuff over and over again is a little dull.

Luckily, I live in Sheffield, where something new happens every five minutes. You’ve got Ride Sheffield campaigning for access and building new trails, Thisisheffield pumping out a constant stream of riding psyche and a really thriving scene of local riders having fun.

This week saw a completely new trail spring to life. Up above the Ski Village, the Parkwood Springs ‘city centre trail centre*’ is finally finished. VP Publishing Manager John pulled rank, played the ‘trail research’ card and decided that we needed to head up the hill and check it out.

The trail is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. To quote Thisisheffield:

'The story of these trails has been a very long time coming. Dan Cook, now of the CTC, had the vision a decade ago. Jon Dallow took up the challenge and, with his colleagues, has worked with the community, the council, and the likes of Steve Peat and Ride Sheffield’s Henry Norman, to plan and develop the proposal for the site. Through their hard work they have managed to unlock the £250k of European funding required for the wider project through Sport England and South Yorkshire Forest. There has been huge amounts of community engagement and support throughout the project with ‘The friends of Parkwood Springs’ being instrumental.'

We actually saw Steve Peat earlier today, out smashing a few laps. (Actually, we heard him long before we saw him, some swooshing noises and a dirt-scattering ‘whump’ announcing his arrival over a sizeable jump.) He was eager to stop for a chat, find out what we thought of the trail (the massive grin on his face gave away his opinion!), and tell us about the effort that went in to its design. It’s pretty obvious that he REALLY likes riding bikes and is proud to be involved in projects like this. Legend.

So – how does it ride?

We started from Rutland Road (it’s the first bit you get to from our side of Sheffield, and we’d been tipped off by Henry Norman that it gets the climb out of the way first!), joining the loop at the start of the climb and finishing on the descent – perfect! When we say ‘climb’, it’s not a killer. There are a couple of steep sections, but nothing major, and plenty of flatter, swoopier bits where you can catch your breath as the trail switches back and forth through the woods. At the moment, the leaves are falling and the whole place is covered with a blanket of yellow and orange. Quite a difference from industrial Sheffield at the base of the hill!

But who really wants to read about climbs? On to the descent!

Straight out of the gate, you know what you’re in for. The wide and smooth surface is quick and, with bermed corners and jump-packed straights right from the start, it’s a hoot. Starting in the woods, the trail bounces between flowy berms and over floaty jumps, flicking through the trees and putting massive grins on faces. There’s nothing big here, just a lovely, playful section of trail.

Nipping out of the woods, the trail crosses a path and fires around a big berm on to open land. Things are bigger here and speeds are higher when the track splits in two. You can head right, through beautifully-shaped berms and flowing tabletops, or sneak left, over a scary rock kicker, into a series of deeper and faster corners that lead to a couple of lengthy jumps that you’ll need a fair bit of speed to clear. Both options are great fun and we’d be hard-pushed to choose between them. Luckily, it’s only a couple of minutes ride back up the main park track for a second run!

The third section arcs around low berms and back into the woods via a tight switchback. The track is narrower here, the trail surface has changed colour and you really need to fling yourself into the turns to carry speed.

And that, sadly, is that. It’s done and dusted – or mud-splattered – in seconds. Your grin, however, is going to last a lot longer. (Sorry, that was pretty cheesy.) It’s always a good sign when, five minutes after a descent, everybody’s still jabbering excitedly and talking over one another.

We really rate this trail. It’s not a huge loop –just over two kilometres and about ten minutes long at a steady canter, but it’s great fun, totally different to anything else in the area and well worth repeated laps.

And what’s really good is that it genuinely could be ridden by anybody. We loved it. It put a huge grin on the face of a World Champion and I can think of a couple of five year old kids who’d have the time of their lives scooting around it. Fingers crossed, people will see it, pick up their bikes and have a go. And more people out riding is never be a bad thing!

So – thank you very much to all involved in creating this trail. It’s brilliant and we’d recommend it to anybody – get up there and have a blast. I’m still grinning now!

Tom

 

*Quick disclaimer – it isn’t a city centre trail centre, we just thought that sounded snappy. It’s a multi-use trail that runs through a pretty busy park. There are dog walkers, kids and all manner of other people out and about, and you need to bear that in mind and knock the speed back a notch – which isn’t easy when you’re having fun!

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