On Charity Bike Rides & 'Raising Awareness'


The Charity Bike Ride isn’t anything new, but over recent years it has gained a new rise in popularity and I believe there is a stronger argument against them - one that I am going to try and convince you of here. 

During these high-times of mass social-media, the power to reach people far and wide, to convince them to donate money towards your chosen cause has never been easier. Websites are built with brands and people trying to raise their profile around the notion of ‘giving’.

On paper, it appears to be a win-win situation - on one hand you’re raising money for a good cause whilst on the other you get to ride your bike. So, what’s the problem? Can I submit that these rides are bad for cycling generally and furthermore, should not be supported or encouraged? 

Born out of the ‘Sponsored Walk’ model, the idea is that their participation is some kind of unsavoury ordeal - one of pain and suffering, hurt or stress. Donors give money to show their appreciation of the sacrifice of the willing participant, who has given up the comfort of their sofa for the sake of said cause. Without a doubt, both participants and donors get to feel extremely virtuous. 

The problem lies in the idea that by translating bike riding into a painful ordeal, it repackages something that is extremely fun, into something that is horrible and unsavoury. No-one would support a Charity ‘food-a-thon’, where you travel up and down England eating as much food as you like in posh restaurants. Nor would they donate money to a ‘Sun-A-Thon’ where you go on an excursion to the south of Spain, soaking up as much sun-lounger-time as possible. You’d think they were taking the piss and yet, we seem to accept these ‘Bike-A-Thons’. 

I’m a strong believer in the positive health benefits the bike can play in your life - such as mindfulness, exercise, meditation and weight-loss. So why are we repackaging the bike as something equal to bathing in a bath-tub full of cold baked beans?! Of course, cycling is gruelling but it’s also extremely enjoyable. You can get incredibly fit, lose a ton of weight, find a better space in your mind by just riding the bike recreationally. As a wise man once told me - the bike is “not a means to an end, it’s the end in itself”. 

Other Charity Ride advocates are now including their bike-tours as a way of “raising awareness”. Imagine riding across the entirely of the UK or Europe, for charity. It strikes me that this is the only way some men (and women) can justify doing a huge Yomp and get it past the wife! “I’m not going on the holiday of a life-time, love - I promise, I’m actually doing this to raise awareness of someone less fortunate than me!”. I recently saw someone begging for money to help pay for a ride around the UK because “they’re depressed”. Imagine me asking you for your hard earned money (especially during this cost-of-living-crisis) so I can take myself and my family off on holiday for two-weeks, to help with my “depression”.

If you want to introduce someone to the bike, and encourage them to take a path that will improve their life for the better, tell them to purchase a cost-effective and reliable bike, learn to pace themselves, take it for a few short rides to improve their road craft and let them feel the breeze around their legs - breathe in that cool fresh air. Enjoy the sights, listen to their breathing whilst they open up their lungs. Encourage them to visit places they have never been before, explore roads they’ve never seen. They’ll never look back and if they end up ‘Getting it’, I can assure you, they’ll never complain about the suffering of recreational cycling to anyone.


Words and photography by Thom Barnett

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LOFT by Mamnick

It’s taken me some time to sit-down and write this post and I actually feel quite embarrassed that the Journal has become somewhat neglected this past 12 months. It’s no excuse really, but after becoming a father on the 10th January 2023 - the last year has flown by and my work-load became somewhat challenging (in a good way!) to say the least.

In September of 2023, an opportunity arose for Mamnick to expand. 95 square-meters of space become available in our current HQ of Stag Works - a grade-2 listed building in the heart of Sheffield’s heritage quarter. Built in 1881 by a Henry Wigfall, Stag Works was once a fully working silversmiths and it has been Mamnick’s home since I started the brand in 2013.

We have now opened the doors to LOFT, our concept store - bringing the people of Sheffield (and our online audience) a selection of brands to compliment and sit-alongside Mamnick, as well as a series of events and pop-ups by other brands and artists that share our love of products and our famous ethos of doing “one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible” (you can even get your hair cut by our in-house barber).

So far we have hosted a variety of events including a pop-up with our friend and local potter Carla Murdoch, a knife-markers exhibition with Warren Martin’s ‘Master Class’, as well as solo shows for Graham Hutchinson (collage) and Nick Newman (painting).

I’m aware than a large part of our audience do not live in Sheffield, but with regular opening hours we hope that if you’re passing by you will drop-in and see what we are doing in Little Sheffield - it is fast becoming the centre of the universe!

So far it’s been a great success and I hope it will continue!

Thank you again for continued support and interest in my brand! I couldn’t do it without you.


Thom Barnett  

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Sheffield ~ Hartington ~ Liverpool ~ Sheffield

During my childhood, before I started getting whisps of light coloured hair on my face, during a time when my style looked like it had been cut and stuck straight from the pages of Kerrang! magazine, me and my mates would bomb-around on bikes. Usually BMX’s or single-speed bikes before upgrading as a teenage to a stiff mountain bike. Where I’m from, the bike was always the big present at Christmas, usually surrounded by what has become commonly known as ‘stocking-fillers’. During one Christmas, I remember the bike wasn’t there when I came down the stairs into the living-room at the early hours of one morning. My parents had managed to convince me that Father Christmas must have forgotten about it, only for it to magically appear at dinnertime, just as I started to put my bottom lip away. These were magical times, even if I didn’t realise it. I’m sure I did, but you see things clearer as you get older and your time becomes precious.

For some reason, I can’t really remember the seasons when I was a kid, I can’t remember it ever being 'too cold' to go out, we would be out, just knocking around in the woods, on “The Rec” (recreational ground) or down the big ginnel - away from everyone and everything. Whatever the weather, we were out. I look back fondly, every day was an adventure, you went with the flow and you never knew what was around the next corner. We were like flaneurs back then, before I knew what the word meant (we never knew how sophisticated we were!). Imagine that freedom to roam, knocking about on bikes, on tracks, building little jumps and dens and harassing the girls of the village - fantastics! You’d pay good money to do that now wouldn’t you? 

What we do now is the same (apart from chasing the girls!), maybe we’re too old to see it the same way, but we partake in the same activities to a certain degree. The only difference really being that we go further, we stay our longer and we eat better. Nowadays our daily duties keep us grounded but doing bike tours with your mates is the ultimate escape, the closest thing we’ve got to leaving our responsibilities as adults just for a few days - it reminds me of my childhood, when you’re deep into the second day of a tour, on the roads unknown, on top of a hill somewhere, through the ford, the places you can’t get to in a single-ride from your home, not knowing where you are and forgetting just as easily where you’ve just been - that’s the feeling you can’t buy!

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Tinca's From Under The Tree

Extra sensory perception.
A paranormal ability.
Telepathy & Hokus Pokus.

I witness the surface and saw it fold. I found a delightful hole. A space that ‘screamed’ fish. The sub terrain under a tree that brushed and broke the waters surface. A gentle tow and breeze on a lazy summers day which put me to sleep for over an hour after a Granny Smith, my second of the morning. A soft wind pushed through the leaves and manoeuvred clouds into ideal conditions for a full-day of fishing.

We were the only two souls on the Great Pond; Myself and Sir. Charles. I was experimenting with and trying to master the Lift Method again. I have a desire to perfect it, not only for myself but to prove to The President that his teachings are being put to good use and not a waste of his valuable time.

I felt I knew they wanted a worm, presented on a small hook and light line. Two AA shots fell through the water and the quill followed my lines trajectory, before I delicately tighten up. The float, awkwardly cocked, looks wrong when compared to the perfectly dotted waggler, but to a purist and to those that really want to found out what is going on under the water, know that this is the perfect way to hunt for tinca. Simple critically balanced perfection. The natural buoyancy of a handmade quill-float wants to rise with the mouth of feeding fish and when it does, it’s game over for the doctor. I am certain that I will leave this pond as the victor today.

I set-up a temporary dinning table in a guesthouse and invited pisces from all around to come and munch on my free offerings. A paid buffet with a free bar. The banquet has started and you can see the bubbles rise up from a section of happy diners. I imagine they are smiling and I could put money on them having dinner around their chops. My restaurant is now officially open and I’ve fully awoken from my early afternoon snooze. My anti-reverse is on, everything poised to strike, my rod tip quivered and I have ditched my rod rests in favour of my knee. There is a feast taking place under a tree and everyone is invited. I am in direct contact with nature, when I move my rod tip the float sinks under the tension. I hold my breathe.

The odd grain of corn is introduced to entice and to catch the red eye of the Doctor. The entree is a consistent bed of carp pellets introduced like canopies on a wedding tray, and on top, the main course - a juicy wriggling worm. It sends vibrations through the water to the lateral line of the fish. Perch and tench eat confidently and I consistently torment them until the sun disappears behind the trees until we reluctantly admit that it’s time to pack-up and go home.

All words and photos by Thom Barnett

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Mr. Mamnick Wins the Nationals!

Pre-pandemic I asked Phil Axe "Do you think you could win the Nationals in the Dazzle kit?", he said he'd try but then we went into lock-down. 

Yesterday, that opportunity finally came around again and he did exactly what he set out to do, in emphatic style!

Taking advantage of a short climb on the course, not only did Phil catch the race in front, he passed them all and rode to an incredible solo victory before enjoying a cup-of-tea and driving us both back to Sheffield! (I've always admired humility in great cyclists).

I documented the day and below are the images which, I hope, tell the story of when Mr. Mamnick took flight in the baking hot Peterborough summer sun!

All words and photos by Thom Barnett 

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June 16th ~ Open Day Tench!

June 16th is a special day in the anglers calendar and yet, the rivers always seem to be choked-up with weed on the first day of the river season. I had dreams about Barbus during the week leading up to this day, I even purchased a tin of hemp and pellets with a tentative plan to start the season as it ended, targeting barbel and chub. But, with little to no rain for weeks up here in the North, on the eve of Opening Day we decided the changed our plans (over a pint of Otter’s Claw!) to do something more traditional this summer.

Tench fishing is associated with the opening day of the coarse fishing season for good reason. In Bernards Venable’s book, ‘Mr. Crabtree Goes Fishing’, the Dad (Mr. Crabtree) teaches Peter (his son) how to catch Tinca Tinca. Ironically, our day mimicked that, with the MAC President Sir. Charles, using his years of expertise and watercraft skills to teach the young keen angling upstart (me!) a new technique ~ The Lift Method.

I’m convinced that fishing with a float is the act of mindfulness disguised as a boring sport (to those that it does not appeal). Those that do get it will understand the excitement of observing a float in still-water and today I’m using a peacock quill, handmade by The President himself. In a world suddenly full of long-range casting carp pyjama-wearing morons, fishing in this manner is the total opposite. It’s a very delicate and extremely simple (but effective) method, like much of ‘fooling fish’, there is little to gain in its over complication.

Starring at a float leaves room for the brain to drift away too, there is just enough happening to keep you focused and in the moment yet, seemingly very little action for a kind-of meditative hypnosis to occur. Imagine that your brain becomes something like a twirling-dervish. Some of my most creative moments happen during this time, in fact, I imagined a full-collection of angling t.shirts with the following slogans on the front …


(please note. I am yet to decided whether to make these t.shirts, but I’m sure you will agree that they are truly wonderful!)

For the hook bait I used a single piece of (Aldi) sweetcorn, ledgered with just two SSG shots (1.6g). Ground bait is mixed into small balls and introduced onto a dinner-table sized area in the water. Not too much bait, but enough to get them sniffing around. (REMEMBER - “once you’ve put it in, you can’t take it back out”.) The float is cocked by slowly tightening your line up to the SSG shot. As fish start to sit around your banquet and proceed to dine, you witness the movements down in the mysterious depths by observing the float shake, knock and tremble. The most exciting part of the day being when the tench stumble across the dining table and you witness all sorts of micro-popping-fizzing bubbles near the float. At this moment, unless you lack soul, your heart will start racing a bit and you know it's only a matter of time!

Be patient and make this journey enjoyable enough that you're not bothered how long it lasts.

You only strike when the float rises, or floats away. Your rod is sat on two rod rests and your hand is resting over the trigger (your reel). I imagine myself as a cowboy in a quick-draw salon gun-fight to the death! (please note all fish are returned safely). 

Somewhere in-between todays obsession with fishing for big-carp and "bagging-up" at commercial fisheries, these lost and simple tactics of pleasure fishing are being ignored and are becoming less and less popular with modern anglers, which to me seems a real shame because tench do put-up what can be described as a spirited fight. The sudden dart into open water and their ploddy pulls on your line put a nice bend into the rod.

All things said, it’s great sport on a light/balanced tackle and who doesn't want to spend a summers day in the sun, sat by the flowering lily pads? 

Words and photography by Thom Barnett & Sir Charles Williamson 

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Notes on Lightweight Touring

I've been extremely fortunate in my life to have been shown 'the way' to do these kinds of rides, which in a nutshell are, bike rides from your back-door to a destination (usually a cost effective venue like a YHA) and back the next day. The route should include the best roads, pubs and food you know of. I am now trying to pass this knowledge onto you. 

When you get these rides right, you will create some of the best memories of your life, without a doubt. 

I am writing this now, after refining this skill for over 10 years. I see so many people/brands online now doing it in the least authentic way possible, which I believe does cycling as a whole a disservice. I thought a few notes on this style of riding (AKA Yomping!) might inspire/help a few of you who have always wanted to do this kind of trip. It's taken me this long because I always thought it might sound patronising (I don't like telling people what to do or think!), but after a conversation with a young-pro this weekend who said "I wouldn't know where to start doing a ride like that", I changed my position and thought I'd jot a few things down after our recent trip.

Firstly, for the record, you might want to refine a route over a number of years. What roads work? What roads don’t? Which sections of rough-stuff are rideable on a road-bike? Bridleways and small lanes sometimes need to be seen and explored in person. Sometimes you can wing it, other times plotting a route is worthy of careful consideration and needs hours of research and decision making. I'm fortunate to live and work in Sheffield, so I've done approx 60,000 miles on roads in the Derbyshire Peak District, I know the place well which makes planning this kind of ride relatively easy (my approach is different somewhere else in the country, I may write about that in future too).   

For luggage, my advice would be to pack-light and take bare essentials. You'll spend most of the day on the bike so SPD shoes with a recessed cleat gives you the option to not pack casual footwear, which can take up valuable space and saves you some weight. Depending on the forecast/time of year, I take a long sleeve t.shirt, a light-insulated jacket/gilet, a pair of lightweight trousers/shorts, a spare pair of socks and something to sleep in (boxer shorts), that is 100% enough! You can rent a towel in most YHA’s and don't forget your toothbrush. All that should fit in a small saddlebag and although your bike will weigh considerably more, it won't be too uncomfortable for a long ride. I've found it's a critically balanced compromise! Ultimately, the bike is still nice to ride and you've got everything you need. 

Having someone follow you in a car with your luggage like a support vehicle is 100% NOT Yompin’, in fact I find it pathetic and I seriously frown upon those that do it! These rides must be self-supported to get the most from them. Don't be fooled by brands who aren't doing it this way either, it's fraudulent behaviour and deserves x500 lashes for poor marketing practices! 

Find a good pub-stop or cafe for dinner, it's always a winner! If you choose the pub, then this gives you the potential for a couple of pints too (daytime drinking cannot be beaten!) The heady mix of endorphins, alcohol, good conversion, quiet lanes and hopefully some sun or nice weather is a hard one to beat. I can assure you, if you get this mixture correct, the memories you create will be up there with the very best and you'll want to book your next trip as soon as you get back home.  

Use the ride as a chance to ignore the junk of the world, that includes your mobile phone! I use a disposable camera or 35mm point-and-shoot camera to document my trips. This can help you stay in the moment, since you’re limited to x24 or x36 frames to record the day. You cannot document it all and you’re more selective with your image making - therefore more likely to live in the moment, which appears to be a lesson in of itself nowadays and one which takes a considerable amount of time to master!

There is nothing worst than riding with someone who is trying to take multiple photos of everything that is happening to share with the world, that is like filming a concert on your phone, there is no point in even being there! If you're trying to 'display' your life to other people, you are not living your life. No one wants to watch your shitty video of your bike trip, you won't even look back at ALL the photos/videos you've taken either. You'll invite envy into your life from people who aren't your real friends on social media. The solution - don't do it! Focus on making moments of meaning and connection in the here and now. 

Soak up the environment, the roads you're riding and the people you are with.

If you need routes, I've got them. You can email me and I'll happily share them with you, but my advice would be to do it your own way and enjoy yourself. 

These photos are from our recent trip into The Peak District National Park. 

All words and images by Thomas Barnett

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Notes on Pike Fishing

There is certainly no point in me trying to write from a position of authority on pike fishing. Although I have been many times, in the harshest of conditions, there are far more accomplished anglers that can teach you something with regards to tactics and getting fish on the bank. That said, I feel I have something to say regarding the moments of mental torment when ledgering dead baits as a chosen method for Esox.

The first thing I will say, for those of you that have never tried to fool a pike before, or indeed, those that have never been fishing before, is you have to try and be patience and remain confident in what your are doing. That is a must. Unless you don’t have the foggiest clue what you’re doing, in which case you I would advise you to read a book on your chosen quarry (or ask someone!).

I find most of my fishing trips start early in the morning with a gleeful optimism, which then (if I’ve not caught in 2/3 hours) slowly drips out of my soul. I start looking inside myself for something I can do. Here is a list (in no particular order) ... 

1. Recast?

2. Change /check the bait?

3. Add a visual stimulant or winter juice to the bait?

4. Change location?

5. Eat (another) sandwich or have a coffee? (This has had proven results in bringing a bite). Please note, I also once threw a Bacon Frazzle in a canal and a bite followed soon after. Shamanism. I recommend and still try this method regularly.

6. Do absolutely nothing and continue to watch the float? (my personal favourite!)

It’s impossible to know who’s fished your chosen spot before you. The angling pressure can ruin a days fishing, so put that out of your mind. There is nothing you can do about it. If you like to travel light, you can find a remote place to fish! That should instil some extra confidence. If you’re feeling extremely good, you can convince yourself you are ‘a pioneer’ of sorts and you’ll find yourself thinking/saying stilly things like, “I bet no-one has ever fished this spot before”, or (if you’re lucky enough to connect) “I bet this fish has never been caught before!”. You don’t know any of this to be factly correct, but it will feel good when you hear yourself say it!

In the awful case of succeeding in fooling the damn fish, you are then faced with the harrowing task of removing the hooks from its vicious mouth of a zillion teeth. This starts by resting the fish until it's got all of its strength back, then you take it from the water just at it's ready with all it's power to bolt into mid-air, whilst trying to place it safely onto a mat. Here you then proceed to wrestle with the beast whilst trying to put your hand in its vile mouth to remove two extremely sharp treble-hooks! Worth noting, by this time you cannot feel your finger-ends, they are totally numb from the ice cold conditions. You then place the fish back in the net to rest while you frantically look for some plasters for your torn digits, which are now totally covered in claret. I am sorry if I've not made that sound like the incredible fun that it is!

So, dear reader, I will presume you have concluded from this that when it comes to pike-fishing, I prefer to sit-it-out in the freezing cold, all-day, in the same spot, starring at my floats waiting for ‘The Villian’ to arrive and be fooled by my bait. You should also take note that I very rarely catch any fish at all, but for some reason that does not deter me from going fishing!

All words and images by Thom Barnett

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One Night In York

10 men, 2 days, 1 county. 

A ride that will be forever remembered as the The Tour de Power Station.

All photos by Thom Barnett

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I cycle, therefore I am.

Cycling is a way of being. 

You've got to think about how you feel when you ride. What is it that makes us eager to ride everday? What better way to find yourself within the world than on a bike? Through your bodily senses, your skin against the air. You know you're working because your muscles sometimes ache and when you get home, off the bike, you've got this thirst, an unquenchable one and an appetite that never seems to go away.

Your hearing perceptions widen and meander from a car coming by you, to your breathing, to a creak of your crack, to someone's car stereo in the distance, to the hum of your tyres on tarmac, to the wind against your ears, to the silence when you're trapping along alone. Like a humming meditative vibration that calms your being as you're talking to yourself in your head. But it's an individual experience, that can also be shared with other people on bikes, your friends, sometimes friends that only exist within this context but it takes nothing away from your relationship, it can cement its value quicker. 

You listen and it's an heightened experience. You watch, you see more and the things around you are moving quicker; you become more responsive. You need not think about your senses, how they work when you get on the bike, they just open up. Your being is immersed within a natural environment.

This practice of dérive makes you become a explorer, a roamer, a flâneur. You're now playing around within the landscape, you exist somewhere between an explorer and a player. A Yomper!

Long may it continue, most days for the rest of your life.

Words and photo by Thom Barnett

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