Mountain biking is an odd sport. Although an individual pursuit it is best enjoyed with others, sharing the delights of two wheels over any terrain. Unlike road cycling there are not a plethora of MTB clubs in Sheffield, there is however a strong mountain biking community. Brought together through a love of bikes there’s a handful of groups making things happen in Sheffield of which we’ll mention three.
The most responsible and respectable of all are Ride Sheffield. They are a formalised trail advocacy group brought together to give a voice to the city’s mountain bikers. Although riders are large in number they were poor at organisation. By representing its membership Ride Sheffield leverages the might of 2500 voices to get its opinion heard on matters affecting trails and riders. Born in 2009 out of frustration at seeing lovely bridleways become flattened two metre wide highways they fight our corner. They are the ones that sit in on meetings with landowners and stakeholders where decisions are made and they ensure riders are at least considered when decisions are made. They have been very successful over the years. One of their long term development projects has been getting a trail built up at Lady Cannings. It was them that came up with the idea to raise enough money through crowd funding to build the new trail. They then went further and raised enough cash from local businesses to build two more. It is all run by volunteers in their own time and they deserve our thanks and a pint if you ever meet them. They’re doing a damn fine job.
The Sheffield Dirt Society is the oldest community group and takes charge of proceedings up at Bolehills BMX track at the back of Crookes. If mountain bikers are disorganised, BMXers perhaps take things to a new level. However, in recent times S.D.S. has been reborn, with fresh blood and renewed enthusiasm, Bolehills is now almost unrecognisable from its former self. Although a council facility it had been ignored by the authorities and left to go feral. There have been various injections of enthusiasm over its 30 year history thanks to the love of a dedicated few but it had seen much better days. Recently the reigns were taken over and a many pairs of hands new and old were rallied by the cry of "Bolehills forever". S.D.S. put in the man hours, called in the favours and raised the cash that resurfaced the whole track leaving glorious limestone waves for all to enjoy. They’re making the most of their new creation by resurrecting the club and running official gate practise on a Monday night teaching a whole new generation the true meaning of RAD.
Less official but somehow just as mighty, This is Sheffield are a bunch of riders expert in sharing and initiating fun on two wheels. Started as a reaction to returning to Sheffield after seasons in the mountain bike mecca of Whistle, TiS quickly grew in notoriety for its riding videos and numerous mates races. Documented and promoted through their blog, they’ve drawn national and international attention to the mountain bike scene in Sheffield. Bringing together like-minded riders to race at their sporadic events, it’s also been a catalyst and spring board for official races around the city and creative careers for its members.
If you keep asking around, you will know someone who knows someone that can get you racing.