Flipping the concept of trail centres on its head, Parkwood Springs brings brilliant bike-specific trails out of the remote forest and into the city centre.
There’s not a straight line in the whole 2km, and on the ascents the constant turns keep your mind off the altitude accumulation. On the downs, the flowing berms, tables and doubles keep the grins firmly from ear to ear with enough placed rocks and tightening turns to keep you thinking. Made to be accessible to all, beginners and kids will love it because it’s fun, progressive and perfect for coaching. Push that bit harder and you’ll love the opt-ins, the rewarding pumps and the loose inside lines, whatever bike you’re on.
Such a facility has not come easily or quickly, and has been the culmination of a huge amount of work that was started a decade ago by the likes of Dan Cook. It took six years for Jon Dallow, of Sheffield City Council, to bring together the community, the political will and the funding to make it possible. A climber and surfer, Jon initially struggled to get inside the head of riders but was aided along the way by the likes of Steve Peat, who helped him convince South Yorkshire Forest, through Sport England, to unlock the European piggy bank for the £250k needed for the project. They ran community sessions with bikes for years, aiming to show the positive impact the project would have and to generate the backing needed for success and acceptance. The patronage of The Friends of Parkwood Springs has been instrumental. With the cash, local builders Bike Track were selected to construct the trails. All local riders, they did us proud.
This is not trail centre, its city centre – so leave your preconceptions at the gate. There’s bound to be walkers, kids, school groups and dogs somewhere in the way. Be nice to them, they’ll learn. It's only 2k so, as fun as it is, it’s not going to keep you amused all day. However, as a part of a day out it makes sense. Grab a buttie from the shop on Rutland Road (the owners and their kids were some of the first to ride there) before heading out elsewhere. Look out for Ranger Tom on a Wednesday afternoon doing site maintenance, coaching groups honing their skills to maximise fun, and an annual XC race.
Ten years ago the site was overrun by motocross bikes and plagued by antisocial behaviour; now, it is home to 2km of purpose-built prime singletrack.
UPDATE May 2016: the first inner-city trail of its kind in the UK is now open at Parkwood Springs!
The country's first inner-city dual slalom track of its kind, and Sheffield’s first official dual slalom track, is now open at Parkwood – tried and tested by Sheffield's very own Steve Peat. Dual slalom tracks allow two riders to race side by side down two almost identical trails at the same time. This new track is the latest development in the wider Making Tracks project (a partnership between by Sheffield City Council, Sport England and Sheffield's mountain bike community) to further radicalise the city’s mountain bike infrastructure. Warning: it's not for the faint hearted!