Howard Street Dual – slalom invades the centre of Sheffield


On hillsides lit by headlamps and in the dark forests of South yorkshire, Nick Hamilton has forged his reputation as the Mates’ Race King. On Saturday he finally had his day in the spotlight as he took his famous Dual formula to the centre of the Steel City.

Dual slalom may have fallen out of favour in the racing mainstream but it’s probably the most relatable race formula out there. Two riders start and the winner stays on, keep going until the fastest guy is the last man standing.

Despite this, there’s probably only one city in Britain that could host a dual slalom race that runs right through the centre and get away with it – Sheffield. With the backing of ‘Mayor’ Jon Dallow and as part of The Outdoor City Weekender, the ThisIsSheffield crew were allowed to close off Howard Street from Hallam University (big props to those guys for letting 40 rowdy mountain bikers rip through their grounds) down to the train station and hold what could be the world’s first Urban Dual Slalom race.

Conditions weren't ideal for racers, but didn't deter the crowds
Pointers and strokers - there are two types of track walkers
Only forty riders managed to secure entries and it was smiles all round for this motley crew
The first few runs saw riders struggling with ice-slick grass before the track got properly cut in
Not everyone held their slides so well
This corner got a lot of attention from the riders, the matting had to be constantly moved until the best curve was found. Put a wheel on the concrete and you were in trouble.

The course was compact but filled with obstacles. The starting stair set seems eager to rip off chains and there weren’t many riders who didn’t have to stop and refit theirs at least once in the day. A set of wooden rollers then led riders up a short rise onto a stepped grass bank with slalom turns.

Wacky Races style practice in the morning

Next came the dreaded carnage corner. The left hand lane saw riders skittering off some steps round a tight concrete plinth, the right hand lane had them dropping off the bank and taking a wider corner on some rubber matting. Riders in both lanes were grateful for the bouldering mats used as padding.

Softly, softly catchy monkey was the best approach on the slick concrete parts of the course

The course then got back on the grass with a couple of kickers, some swooping flat turns, a road crossing then a dive down a bank across the finish. Total time was around 30 seconds – one mistake and your day was over.

Martin 'Oggy' Ogden looked great in practice but had a tough draw against Sam Dale in round 1
There were only eight of them, but the women charged hard enough to make up for the lack of numbers
The locals quickly learnt the dangers of mountain bike spectating

Seeding was run on the riders’ right hand track and fastest man down was Brett Penfold with a 23.91. He pushed Steve Peat into second by 0.04 seconds with Orange’s Ben Moore in third.

In the women’s seeding Carrie Poole grabbed top billing with 27.65 followed closely by Anya Tolwinska and Ellie Dewdney.

With the crowd assembled there was only one thing to do, watch the gate and go racing!

Curious locals lined the course
The view from the start gate as racing got underway
Dropped chains meant riders had to improvise
The battle of the Cotic boys - Cy Turner vs Will Swinden
Peaty was looking imperious and cruised through most of his heats
Biggest crash of the day goes to Matt Hockenhull who flew through the tape on the final bend.
Sambo Dale being pushed hard in the penultimate bend by Jack Drogan
Downmall winner Ben Moore looked super smooth all day despite rocking a hardtail
The short track kept things close from start to finish
"Did I get him?" Ben Moore pips Peaty in the semi-final
Carrie Poole was untouchable all day and wrapped up the women's race with ease
Peaty secured third in the small final ahead of local lad Tim Pearson
In the men's final heat one Brett Penfold pulled a slim lead
Then recovered from this finish line slide to just snatch the overall win. How did he ride it out?!
Mates Race King Nick Hamilton
Hope, Leighton Vans, Cotic, Airdrop, Bike Rehab, Hook It, Five Ten, Go Outdoors, Planet X, Aline mountain bike coaching, Shorelines and Redbull provided the prize pool
Women's podium (L-R: Ellie Dewdney, Carrie Poole, Anya Tolwinska, Katy Sunter)
Men's podium (L-R: Ben Moore, Brett Penfold, Steve Peat, Tim Pearson)

Congrats to everyone that put on the event and thanks to the ‘The Outdoor City Weekender’ and Sheffield Hallam University for sponsoring the event.

Full results – women

Full results – men

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