27 February 2017

Star names in the mountain biking world are set to take part in the first-ever Howard Street Dual, being held as part of The Outdoor City Weekender.

The dual slalom in Howard Street will be one of the many events of the Weekender, a high-octane weekend of climbing, biking, running, walking and more, taking place from Friday March 17 to Sunday March 19 in and around Sheffield: The Outdoor City.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield is an international destination for people that love the outdoors, and our mountain bike trails and scene mean we really are up there with the best of the best.

“The first ever running of the Howard Street Dual is sure to be an exciting and exhilarating chance to see some of our home-grown top mountain bikers, who are usually out at the likes of Wharncliffe, Grenoside and Parkwood Springs, right here in Sheffield city centre.

“This will be one of the events as part of The Outdoor City Weekender, which will together showcase the very best of Sheffield not just to visitors, but to those who already live, work and play here and would like to try something different.”

The Howard Street Dual course, which will take mountain bikers from the top of Howard Street towards the railway station via a descent along grassy and gritty slopes, had design input from Sheffield’s own star mountain biker Craig Evans.

Invited riders will race head-to-head, two at a time, down the course in a knockout-style event. The fastest two riders of the day will then take each other on in the grand final.

Evans, who will miss the event as he’ll be away competing at the Crankworx series in New Zealand, said: “There are urban downhill events in other cities, but I think an urban dual in a city centre may be a first.

“This is a big move for Sheffield and I think it goes a long way to showing the passion for mountain biking here in the city.

“I’ve been messing around on a bike in Sheffield since I was a kid and spent most of my time at Wharncliffe, which is still my favourite ride.

“I’m gutted that I won’t be here for The Outdoor City Weekender but it’s been awesome to be involved in the track design. The MTB community are pretty excited about the event.

“A good track for me is a varied one with slow and techy parts, jumps, corners and rhythm sections to split the field and make for good racing. The Howard Street Dual will have all of this plus a city centre backdrop; it is going to be an awesome event and a great experience for spectators. “

Jon Dallow, from Sheffield City Council’s Parks and Countryside team, said: “The Howard Street Dual is a great example of how the council works collaboratively with Sheffield’s renowned mountain biking community and businesses to produce places, spaces and events that people who live here want to use – and people also visit the city from further afield for.

“This is Sheffield, Steel City Downhill, Clayspades and Bolehills Forever are just some of the parts of the grassroots scene that further builds Sheffield’s unique position in the MTB world.

“We also work with brands and businesses such as Cotic, Go Outdoors, Air Drop, Hookit and wider funding bodies such as Sport England. Working together over the last five years, we have created three official purpose-built trails, including the UK’s only city centre dual slalom mountain bike track at Parkwood Springs.

“The other two trails, at Lady Canning’s Plantation and Grenoside Woods, attract riders from across the UK. We at the council, and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, have worked closely with the MTB community to develop these sites.

“Plans are also well underway to transform the wider site at Parkwood Springs into a top outdoors destination, with mountain biking potentially being a part of that. It continues to be a really exciting time for mountain biking in Sheffield.”

Over the next year, Sheffield will be adding another mountain bike trail to its portfolio at Redmires reservoir, thanks to the successful crowdfunding campaign championed by the city’s mountain bike community.

RADmires, as the campaign is known locally, has already raised £35,000 and is Ride Sheffield’s second crowd-funded trail, after Lady Canning’s was built and launched in 2015, working with the local authority.

Racing at the Howard Street Dual will begin at 3pm and finish at around 6pm. Entry is through the This Is Sheffield and the British Cycling websites, where further information can also be found.

As well as the Howard Street Dual, headline events of The Outdoor City Weekender will be the Magnificent Seven bike race, the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) and the Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF).

ShAFF runs over all three days of the Weekender, featuring films based on the themes of bike, run, adrenaline, adventure, and young adventurers. The festival is based at the Showroom Cinema, with additional screenings nearby at Sheffield Hallam University.

CWIF, at the Climbing Works, attracts professional climbers from around the world, who compete alongside amateurs of all ages and abilities. Last year, 450 competitors from 23 countries took part, and the same number are expected in 2017.

And The Magnificent Seven, a cross between a sportive and a hill climb, follows a 27-mile-long route with inclines ranging from 9 to 23 per cent.

The Magnificent Seven course will include the infamous Côte de Oughtibridge, which was part of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart. The other challenging climbs include Hangram Lane, Blake Street, West Lane, Hagg Hill, Foxhall Lane and Fern Road/Thrush Street

Numerous fringe events will also take place during the Weekender. These include two mountain bike skills courses from Trail Advantage on Saturday 18 March, which aim to improve the confidence and skills of new and intermediate riders.

The courses, run by British Cycling MTB coach Adam Simmonite, will be held on Houndkirk Moor and follow the natural trails that stretch from Ringinglow out to Fox House, taking in Lady Cannings Plantation along the way.

The team from Accelerate, in Attercliffe, will also be leading a trail run from Ecclesall Woods out into the Peak District, finishing at the Longshaw Estate.

The run on Sunday 19 March is open to any runner that can cover the distance of 13km and 500mts of height gain in less than two hours.

Cotic Bikes will be hosting a demo day, at which riders can test multiple mountain bikes, at Lady Canning’s Plantation on Sunday, 19 March, and Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust will also be organising a series of volunteer work events at some of The Outdoor City’s most beautiful natural sites.

These will include sessions at Woodhouse Washlands on Friday 17 March and at Wyming Brook and Fox Hagg on Sunday 19 March.

South Yorkshire Orienteers, meanwhile, will be setting up camp at Norfolk Heritage Park on Saturday 18 March, with various orienteering courses aimed at people of all ages and abilities.

Further fringe activities taking place during The Outdoor City Weekender will be announced in the next fortnight.

For more information on the Dual, visit the website here