On Cycling in The Peak District

Adventures From Your Backdoor 
I woke up on Friday thinking about the rise in trendy new independent bike races and long-distance events such as the TransAtlantic, TransConti, Sportifs etc. I gave some consideration as to why I have never done one, nor have any desire to do one (I’m open to having my mind changed on this by the way).
It’s not that I’m looking down my nose at those that partake. But there is so much to explore riding from my house in Sheffield that I don’t have the desire to do one.
Within a 100 mile radius in any direction, but particularly into Derbyshire and the Peak District, there is a network of roads, bridleways and tracks that keeps my interest. Whether I do a couple of hours, an all-day ride or a saddle-bag stop-over.
I must admit, having a knowledge of the lanes and backwacks in the Peak makes planning a ride/route really enjoyable and interesting. Not everyone knows the lanes, but I would advise checking as OS map once in a while, this keeps it interesting. I have also benefited from riding with people who have the same mindset as me and there is no finer feeling than showing someone a new road, or finding a new road together. For none bike-riding readers, I know that might sound a bit weird!
I’ve done a few rides recently on my bike that have been 60% off-road, with the ride starting from the back door (rather than riding main roads to get somewhere first). By using woods, parks and lanes you can make your way out of Sheffield without having to deal with traffic, allowing you to do a 2 hour ride that is peaceful and scenic without never getting more than 15 miles away from the house. Furthermore, you can do two to three days riding in the Peak District without riding the same road and the topology of the land there lends itself to cycling perfectly.
It is an oddity of the times that which we live that there seems to be this desire and fashion to go all the way around the world, but never really paying attention to what's yours in front of you. It reminds of gap-years students that travel the globe to see the famous temples of the far-east but have never visited the beautiful Cathedrals of Europe. It seems odd to go to Siem Reap if you’ve never been to Chartres (or better still, York Minster). Besides, a ride from your door can cost practically nothing, except for perhaps a few quid for a sandwich in the cafe or a pint in a pub. Even if you have responsibilities, you can get out most days if you plan your time well.
I’m not comparing one to the other here, I have enjoyed cycle trips in Portugal, Italy and Mallorca over the years, as well as riding in other parts of the UK. But still, in regards to the essence of the bike, not much compares to routes I can do from my backdoor. This also takes away the frustrations of trying to manage the logistics of planning a trip with the bike that needs air or train travel.
I guess I’m lucky too - all this on my doorstep. I’m going to continue to celebrate it.
Words by Thom Barnett
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On Racing (And Why I Don't)

For a short time I considered trying my hand at bike racing. This was before I realised how hard racing actually is! Every cyclist must be able to relate to the visions of grandeur that you have when you start getting fit. You start with the bike, you enjoy it, you ride more and more and you get fitter. Then you ask yourself the question “I wonder if I should race?“. 

A good friend told me “Apart from a small number who are good enough to win races and enjoy it, most lads who race do it to prove something to themselves or to others”. It spared me the time, money and embarrassment of turning my bike rides into hard training-rides and pinning a number to my back. I don’t regret never trying. I have still been fortunate enough to ride with some good riders, some proper talent.

The idea of putting the bike in the car at weekends, driving to a race only to get my head kicked-in, all in front of one-man and his dog, does not appeal! When you fantasise about racing your bike, you’re riding the Giro or de Tour, dropping people in the mountains, in the sun. When in reality, you’re more likely to be getting blown out of the back on a dismal circuit in the rain!

Long weekend rides made more sense. Riding with friends who know the etiquette and ‘how to ride’. It made sense then and it still does now. Straight out of the house early, riding all day, side by side, good conversation, great routes exploring new roads, a cafe stop (usually a pub stop!) - halcyon days! 


Having said that, I'm glad there are people with the drive, the talent, the skill and the capacity to suffer, or who want to prove something, who race bikes. Because I  love watching top notch bike races.

I was lucky enough to watch a friend win the best known and most prestigious domestic race on the calendar, Lincoln Grand Prix.

There are some photos I took from that event ~ here 


Words by Thom Barnett / Photos by Nick Newton


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Fluid Mechanics #5 ~ Michele Bartoli

During the 1997 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Italian Michele Bartoli broke away with another Italian, Marco Pantani and teammates Alex Zulle and Laurent Jalabert of the ONCE team.

The climbing specialist Pantani was quickly dropped on the flat stretches and the World Champion Johan Museeuw failed to bridge the gap to the leaders by 50 meters.

With 16miles remaining, the breakaway trio had 1min10 on the chase group.

Teammates Zulle and Jalabert attacked one after the other on the Cote Sart Tilman but were unable to drop the Italian. A tired Zulle was dropped after an acceleration by Bartoli in the final kilometres.

As Bartoli and Jalabert approached the finish, Bartoli launched the ultimate attack in the final uphill, dropping Jalabert and claiming his first win in the Ardennes Classic.

Bartoli’s form on the bike, his position out of the saddle is a beautiful spectacle - one of the finest examples of fluid mechanics ~ when man and machine are at one creating some kind of liquid poetry.


Words by Thom Barnett 


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Fluid Mechanics #4 ~ Andrei Tchmil

10th April, 1994. 167.8 miles


Easily recognizable with his signature grimace, old-style helmet, and powerful riding style.

The only cyclist to have four nationalities. A retired Soviet (until 1991), Moldovan (1992–1995), Ukrainian (1995–1998) and Belgian (since 1998).

In an apocalyptic maelstrom of mud, blood, and cobblestones he won alone that day with an advantage of over a minute in front of Fabio Baldato and Franco Ballerini.

Tchmil used Rock Shox Paris~Roubaix SL suspension folks which subsequently  launched an 'ad-blitz' for the product. 

The race time that day was 7h 28' 02"

At the age of 31 Andrei Tchmil took his first and only victory at The Hell of The North.

All words by Thom Barnett 

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Fluid Mechanics #3 ~ Jacky Durand

The 76th running of The Tour of Flanders was held on Sunday the 5th of April, 1992. 

For the first time in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, a rider from the early breakaway stayed ahead until the finish ~ that rider was Jacky Durand. 

The race started in Sint-Niklass and finished in Meerbeke, a total of 257km and featured 14 categorised climbs including the Paterberg, Muur-Kapelmuur and the Oude Kwaremont. 

Durand broke away with Thomas Wegmuller and two others after only a quarter of the race. There was 217km still to ride. 

By the time the escape reached the first climb their lead was 24 minutes. 

That day they had caught the peloton sleeping and there was no way back for them. 

On the final climb of the day, the Bosberg, the Frenchman Durand attacked and held a narrow lead to the finish. 

He eventually won by 48" seconds. 

Years later Durant was stopped for speeding. The Belgian policeman who came to his car said "You won Tour of Flanders in 92'" and let him drive on.

All words by Thom Barnett 

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Q&A with Josie Dew

I was given a copy of The Wind in My Wheels when I first got into cycling just under a decade ago. A travelogue which detailed the experience of the English touring cyclist Josie Dew. 

At that time, I had read numerous cycling books but mainly about professional bike racing. I found Josie’s book inspiring and it gave me a different perspective on the bike.

Although a caterer by profession, Josie frequently takes long cycle tours and then writes books about her trips, full of humour and human observation. Sometimes putting herself in mortal danger - all in the name of adventure. 

1987, her first time abroad by herself, Josie clocked up 7000 miles in six months riding through Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Faroe Island, Iceland, Lapland, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland and France. 

By September 2005, Josie had cycled through 48 countries, including circumnavigating Great Britain and Japan. Enduring “locust invasions, tree-climbing goats and ogling Arabs” in the Sahara. Across Katmandu, The Himalayas and “the chaos, rats, dhal and dubious water supplies” of India. 

She has cycled around Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Around Hawaii ("lots of palm trees"). Through Mexico's Baja peninsula, down the west coast of the USA, Hong Kong, China and the Baltic States. She got pregnant and kept cycling until she went into labour. 

I could go on … 

I have wanted to get Josie on the journal for a long time and I am very pleased to be able to share this with you. 

Many thanks to Josie for her time and for providing images. 


"That's my Cycle", Wall in India, 1989 

Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?

Some of my favourite local roads to ride are the lanes around Didling – quiet, scenic, lots of sheep and close to the foot of the always impressive South Downs. And one of my best local rides off road is the South Downs Way: no motor traffic, high up, great views of the sea and the Weald.

The same question for roads anywhere in the world?

Northwest fjords of Iceland, Scottish Highlands, north coast of Hawaii’s Kauai, west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, fjords of Norway, parts of Austria and the French Alps, Japan’s Okinawa archipelago and the Netherlands (for its incredible network of bike paths).

What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling

Lots of memorable moments - one being going into labour while out on a bike ride when pregnant with my first child and trying to cycle home before giving birth.

Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?

I approach cycling slightly differently now as I generally have children attached!

In the north of the Sahara desert, Algeria, 1985

What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?

My Exposure lights – at last I feel drivers can actually see me.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

If I could, I would go back to a time when cars were few and far between (or non-existent).

Are you the type of person who likes to have a plan? Or do you prefer to wing it?

As for plans – I tend to be spur of the moment. 

Monument Valley, USA. Cycling across America, 1992.

Have you faced many challenges bringing up three children in a rural area without a car? 

When my first child was 1 I got my first ever vehicle (rusty camper van) as both my parents were ill in hospital 20 miles away and because of where I live (rural - not train service no bus service) I bought the camper as I couldn't cycle down a busy A road for 20 miles with a baby in the dark winter nights to visit them. I still have the camper and use it only on the rare occasions when I can't get to the place I need to get to on the bike with 3 children.

Do you have any cycling pet hates?

Being overtaken on my bike too fast too close or overtaken on a blind corner.

Cotton cap or helmet? 

These days helmet.

Rough Road, Utah. USA, 1992. 

Which three words best describe you?

Cycling writing mother.

When were/are you most happy?

On the move, on the bikes with my noisy offspring.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

If the amount of cars and trucks and vans on our roads metamorphose into bikes it would be heaven!

Japan, 1994.

Bike Path near Zandvoort, The Netherlands. Cycling the North Sea coast with offspring, 2016.

Bike Path near Breskens, The Netherlands, 2017.

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Fluid Mechanics #1 ~ Gianni Bugno

In 1990 the Italian Gianni Bugno won Milan ~ San Remo in very classy fashion.

Crosswinds along the Riviera had broken up the peloton, scattering the riders into three large echelons.

Angelo Canzonieri took a punt off the front after passing Imperia. Bugno followed the move.

On the Cipressa, with his upper body still, arms fixed on the hoods, turning over a huge gear, Bugno dropped Canzonieri effortlessly and took off solo.

He held 18 seconds at the top of the Cipressa and 15 seconds on the Poggio.

Rolf Golz stalked Bugno all the way to San Remo ~ Bugno won by 4 seconds.

The average speed for the race was 28.45mph, the current record for La Primavera.


All words by Thom Barnett

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Local Riders Q&A - Gary Speight

Gary Speight was a road racing cyclist from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. He started riding at the age of 13 years old after his Dad bought him a bike from a local auction for £15 - A 25" Puch frame, which enabled Gary to ride to his (then) girlfriends house, instead of catching the bus!

Soon after he joined the Rotherham Wheelers in 1982 and began to take bike riding more seriously after riding from Doncaster to Castleton at the age of 15. He described this as "a great feeling". He then joined the Chesterfield Couriers the next year. 

In 1985 he went with a local friend Steve Goff (Rutland.CC) to Belgium for a week and rode a race in Heist Op Den Berg.

He placed in the top 10 regularly as a junior and came 2nd in the regional devision champs to Glyn Shirley. 

'Speighty' represented Great Britain as a junior at the Tour of Austria in 1985, chosen after placing at the Peter Buckley events in the Peak District. 

He rode for the GB team in the Peace Race (Berlin ~ Warsaw ~ Prague) twice, the second time in 1995 with with John Tanner, Chris Lillywhite, Matt Stephens, Wayne Randall and Mark Walsham. 


As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?

My win in the Triptique Ardannais in Belgium (1990) and a kermesse race i won in Ooedelem, West Flanders. It was in the home town of a family who looked after me while I was racing over there. I gave the winning bouquet of flowers to Aline Versluys and Johan Teerlinke for all the hard work they did for me while I was trying to chase my dream. Also the Boone family from Gent and a pro rider Werner Wieme who also helped as I stayed with him a lot! 

Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on and what is it that you like about them?

Cape Town, South Africa from Bellville to Capetown. About 10km roughly. It is called Voortreker Road. It isn’t the nicest view around but down that road you see all sorts of life, from wealthy people to poor people living rough and the famous crazy taxi drivers. A very interesting place! 

What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling

Watching Stephen Roche win the triple. His 1987 win at Villach, Austria has got to be one of the best world championships to watch.

Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?

I’d say women make mens legs stronger!

All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is

Because they are trying to stay lean! I was one of them. Watching what i ate, cutting back on things.

What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?

My pride and joy bike that my Mum and Dad bought me from Tony Butterworths in Sheffield. It was a blue Gureciotti with Campagnolo Super Record components on for £450, back in 1983 or 84 i think. 

Until my best friend Martin Maltby (Mojo) ran a red light after the Chesterfield Grand-Prix and bent the forks right back. He’s still my friend by the way!  

Cotton cap or helmet?

I never liked wearing a helmet. I preferred to get my hair blonde from the heat of the sun, or these days just my shaved head! 


White, black or coloured socks?

I always liked white socks, until i raced on the cobbles in Europe then I switched to  black or coloured. 

Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? 

Wayne ‘The Train’ Randall.

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Q&A with Henk Francino of The RSF

Before Mamnick I was dealing in vintage clothing, my weekends were spent riding the bike and traveling the UK to bicycle jumble sales, looking for deals. Before the big boom in the vintage market and old school bikes becoming cool, you could pick-up all sorts of top-end bike parts from the 50s-90s for next to nothing. I rarely bought bike parts to sell-on, I was building a collection of bits for my own bikes, for when current parts wore-out and needed replacing. I have many parts still sitting in my cellar, ready for when they need using.
During this time I came across an issue of the Rough Stuff Fellowship Journal. It was sold to me for 50p at a jumble sale in Coal Aston. Although these book didn’t instantly resonate with me, partly due to the bikes that were being ridden in the modern journals (mountain bikes by this time) and the pace of which they appearing to be rode (it looked painfully slow!) but I went away and did a bit of digging on the internet and found more interesting images on blogs and photo feeds.
I was doing a bit of ‘rough-stuff’ on the road bike (somewhat reluctantly at first) and it was great to get away from the traffic. Friends from a local Sheffield club introduced me to the network of back-wack and lesser known roads and bridleways of the Peak District too. It felt exciting and explorative. 
At the same time, images by people such as David Pountney (view here) and the late Tim Hughes of the CTC influenced the way I saw the bike and rides I was keen to do. All this rolled together became a large part of Mamnick.
That is something I've always obsessed about, for right or wrong - Horizontal top-tubes, frame-pumps, steel, saddle-bags, bobble hats, mudguards and mudflaps! A lot of my friends, including myself, still ride bikes of that appearance, especially through winter. It all seems to make sense. It all just seems to look right too. 
Mamnick has always  become a vehicle to explore the things I love on and off the bike, so to publish this interview with the current secretary of the RSF club, 9 years after buying that RSF journal, gives me great pleasure.
It's nice when things come full-circle like that. 
How did you come to be involved with The RSF? 
When walking in the heart of the Cairngorms in the 1970s I met a guy with his bike over the shoulders and asked him what he was after. He handed me a leaflet about the Rough Stuff Fellowship and I joined there and then. And never regretted. I’d always been cycling ever since I was very young, over the years I discovered there’s more than busy roads. Apart from cycle touring and bike packing I witnessed the beginnings of mountain biking by the end of the 1970s/start 1980s and more or less got addicted to MTB as well.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
I am now based in the east of the Netherlands, I have my daily rides around town (Deventer). There is a lot of rides to choose from but my favourite stretches are a mix of mtb trails and paths along the river IJssel. But I do longer rides too and in the National Park De Sallandse Heuvelrug, a hilly part - formed at the end of the last ice age. It’s the mix of terrain and landscape that attracts me most.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
Apart from Wales and Scotland, the Alps and Dolomites are favourites of mine. Down hill MTB-ing I like most, but I also enjoy the steep climbs which are often also involved. 
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
That’s the Salto Mortale I made last year, a couple of miles from home. Memorable in the sense that I’m still alive and kicking but I had some awkward injuries with my right hand (which is now healed).
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
Not really, perhaps the long waiting times at certain traffic lights here in town!
Would you say that when the MTB was introduced, you turned your back on the road bike? 
No, I didn’t, road cycling and mtb-ing form a good mix for me.
I have noticed the older images from the history of the RSF is all about the road bike, but the current members tend to lean more towards the mountain-bike. Is this a natural evolution or do you think there is more to it?
From what other members tell me I think it’s just a matter of convenience: MTBs are on the whole much stronger and more comfortable (suspension) compared with the good old road bike.
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
My SEVENiDP crash helmet and a Swiss jersey.
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
All sorts of subjects can come along, from the most ordinary (e.g. about shoe strings!) to deeply philosophical, often triggered by the landscape or social settings.
Did you get the chance to ride with or meet with any of the original RSF member like Albert Winstanley or Dick Phillips?
I once rode with Dick Philips during an RSF Easter Meet and Bernard Heath (visiting him in Scotland).
You have a book on the horizon featuring some images from your achieve. Tell me, how did that come about? 
After finally having found an archivist for the RSF heritage, he started sorting out the enormous amount of photographs and slides taken over the years (since 1955) by RSF members. Then he wondered if it was possible to share these images with a wider public and in stepped Max Leonard of Isola Press. Max and I had been busy before with the re-publication of Fred Wright’s book Rough Stuff Cycling in the Alps, originally published in 2002 by Ibex Press. The re-print of this book has proved to be a great success and Max suggested he was prepared to take on a new project, the publication of The Rough-Stuff Fellowship Archives, Adventures with the world’s oldest off-road cycling club. And thus it came about that Isola Press and the RSF are going to present this treasure trove of incredible value and beauty in a book, for the first time.
To see The Rough-Stuff Fellowship website click - here 
To view the Mamnick hat we have dedicated to the Rough-Stuff Fellowship click ~ here 
Images provided by Henk Francino 
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