"Bolehills forever" is a phrase passed around between people who have spent any length of time riding the expertly-shaped golden limescale mounds of the track recently transformed by Sheffield’s community. Just below Crookes high street and Walkley, to the west of the city, nestled in Bolehills Recreation Park lies the city’s finest BMX track. Built by the council in the early '80s on the initial wave of BMX mania, Bolehills has been providing a place to play on two wheels for over 30 years.
Divided in to four straights linked by bermed corners it has something for everyone, with jumps progressing in size and difficulty. Clearing the back straight is a rite of passage. There is a central pump track, which makes an ideal introduction for first timers and offers skill development for more advanced riders. All types of riders ride all types of bikes at bolehills, from BMXs to mountain bikes, all the way down to baby balance bikes being encouraged around by keen parents. There’s usually someone riding there and they’ll be happy to chat and give pointers. If it’s your first time, just be polite and interested; we all started somewhere.
The track is run and maintained by Sheffield Dirt Society. In May 2015 they completed a full restoration of the track following six months of graft by a dedicated team of volunteers, the council and donations from all sorts of local businesses who also love the place. It has been completely reshaped and resurfaced, bringing it back to national standard, and finished off with the installation of a new gate start. Mondays are regular club nights incorporating gate practice, which is an essential skill for racing, and a very good chance to meet the locals.
Bolehills’ history began on the wave of the popularity of BMX in the late '80s when Sheffield City Council built BMX tracks in parks around Sheffield. They were dreadful but the Bolehill Bandits seized the opportunity and, with much effort and many iterations, transformed the place into the track it is today. The club produced British, European and world champions under the leadership of Roger Baltimote, before the track floundered during the early '90s.
Revitalised by George "GSport" French and the Carve House of Death Crew, the Bolehills Dirt Society was born, with jumps and transitions all over the track. In the late '90s Phil "Hudu" Charnley took charge of renovations and maintenance, rejuvenating the place again. Then Dave, Phil and Steve "Bike Track" Taylor came along and ploughed their energies in. Along the way Dave’s daughter, Abbie, picked up a silver junior World Championship medal, which isn’t too much of a surprise when you see her clear the back straight with ease. In October 2014 Dave Camus and Richard Baybutt picked up the baton and drove the most recent revival of the track. Aided by Jon Dallow from the council, the team at Bike Track and countless others, it is once again a focus of two-wheeled fun and the boundless energy that follows.