My fondest memories as a kid mostly include sports. Not football, or tennis (though I wasn’t bad at the latter), but ‘extreme’ sports. Rock climbing at Hull’s indoor climbing walls on a Saturday night. BMX riding around the local town with mates. Bodyboarding on the most windy day in Lanzarote. Skating down the seafront on holiday one year – although I can’t specifically remember where that one was. White water rafting in Scotland. Or ripping round the garden on the crosser. I’ve never really been into regular sports.
Through all of those memories two people were present: my brother, and my dad. It was something the boys of the house did together, and it’s some of the best times I’ve had. Since getting into biking again, I’ve been to a few trails with my brother a couple of times, but haven’t got everyone together. That was until last Saturday.
Getting somewhat excited, we decided Grenoside would be a suitable place to get everyone together. So, on Saturday morning we put the bikes in the back of dad’s van and headed out. The makeshift pallet bike rack in the back stood up well and we arrived with all three bikes safe from damage and our stomachs full of jammy dodgers we’d picked up at the fuel stop. We were really lucky and managed to catch up with my dad’s cousin too, who’s also well into his bikes, and who we’ve not seen in years.
Saddling up, we shared out my spare kit. My dad took the Camber – with some hilarious attempts of setting the sag -, I grabbed the Bronson (sorry, there’s no way I’m sharing that!), and my brother jumped on his unknown branded hardtail with the narrowest bars and shortest seat post I’ve ever seen. I gave up my spare lids, making sure my dad took the Super 2R and leaving the Seven skid lid for my brother. We were a somewhat mismatched bunch, with a spattering of Troy Lee mixed with camp trousers and Solomon walking shoes, but the smiles made none of that matter.
Dave (the aforementioned Dad’s cousin) and I led the way down a first lap of Pub Run. His Orange 5 stood up easily against all of the lap, showing that well made bikes, even if they’re not the 2017 model, are worth every penny. My brother and dad found their way to the bottom with the biggest smiles spread across their faces. Their pace was pretty respectable for folk who don’t regularly ride, but they had already started to spread the stoke like the best of us. “That root right in the middle! Did you see that?!” “It’s so rocky down the bottom.” A bit of a push back to the top and another two laps, with continued hollering, whooping and banter at the bottom, and everyone was ready to try out something else. A quick pedal up to the Steel City DH run continued the laughs. My Dad rolled the black line (apparently he didn’t see the signs) and we dodged the fallen trees down at Peaty’s drop – kudos to the little brother who took it on without any hesitation on that thing he calls a bike. Some more catching up, with a paintball themed discussion, and a pedal back to the top led us to lunch time.
Back to the van for petrol station sandwiches and leftover cold chinese, gave us all a chance to catch up. It’d been years since we’d caught up with Dave and his kids, which we remember as toddlers, are now teenagers (or thereabouts). My brother and dad haven’t been out on the bikes with me before so we talked loads about different setups and bike parts. A good catchup was a massive part of the day and made a sweet day’s ride all the better.
Following the refuel, we headed down to Wharncliffe side. With a bit of help from some walkers and their local knowledge, we headed towards where some of the bigger trails are. Dave got us a little lost, before managing to turn it all around, and my brother was feeling the pain of his bike – especially the ridiculously unfriendly seatpost height. To my surprise, my dad seemed to handle everything really well, even more so considering I can’t remember the last time he was on a bike.
Riding round Wharncliffe was a little sweet and sour for me (and I don’t mean the earlier chinese I’d consumed). Seeing the awesome work of the local trail builders out there was amazing. Smooth berms launching into huge gaps or rocky descents made me want to hurl down them… or at least some of them. Maybe not the big stuff. But keeping up with the rest of the bunch, who weren’t as interested in these trails, was priority. So I logged where they were (mentally) and carried on past with a silent promise to myself to come back another day.
Eventually, with a very tired brother, we reached the car park again. Farewells and promises to meet up again soon issued, we loaded up the pallet bike rack with the bikes and set off for home. All in, an awesome day made mostly by the company. I feel even if we’d been riding on the road we’d have had a good day purely due to the company of each other, but a sprinkle of Sheffield’s finest dirt made it all the better.
I’ve no doubt we’ll be heading out together again. And I can’t wait.