Journal

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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We All Start Somewhere

I found this photo attached an old email. 

It was taken by my pal Tim on the 1st of November, 2010. The location is at the top of Ringinglow Road, right before the sign that reads ‘DERBYSHIRE’. The road has since been resurfaced.

I imagine that Tim rode away from me on the climb and then stopped in the lay-by to take the photo as I approached, I don’t remember much about the ride, it was a long time ago. 

I’m wearing some M&S casual shorts over the top of my bib-shorts,  a pair of Nike trainers, Campagnolo cap and a vintage Carrera jersey. 

Back then I was totally clueless about bikes and bike riding etiquette, I owned very little proper cycling kit apart from some vintage jerseys. I was on my first proper road bike ~ T.J. Quick Reynolds 531c frame with some vintage Campagnolo parts which I bought from a friend at the time. 

Andy Mac built the bike up for me it in his garage one Saturday afternoon and I rode it home across town that same evening. I remember it feeling good to ride the bike, to go down hill reasonably fast with the wind on my face. I also remember feeling vulnerable riding on the main road with cars. 

At that time I was 25 years old. This was all before I started Mamnick. 

Since then so much has changed, but finding this photo reminded me of how far I'd come (in bike terms). It reminded me of how hard riding a bike in Peak District can be when you're not fit. 

I get sent messages from people on social media asking for advice of how to “get into cyclingand I never really feel like I can give a adequate response. My first piece of advice is usually - “Buy a cheap bike and see if you like it”

This is the first image I have of me riding a road bike but ironically, some fundamental things have stayed the same. I still ride steel bikes with relatively big gears, with down-tube shifters. I still wear a cotton cap and I still ride on (or near) this road frequently. 

The image got me thinking about how we all start somewhere, and this (is roughly) where I started. 

 

Word by Thom Barnett

 

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On Brands and Authenticity

Perhaps it’s because my introduction to the bike was guided by a handful of old-school club riders who had earned their spurs riding and racing in a time long before cycling became cool. Cyclists’ were often seen as outsiders. Often exposed to piss-taking and ridicule from those that simply 'don’t get it’. 

Winter riding where I come from consists of riding a trusted steel or aluminium winter bike with full (proper) clearance for mudguards and vitally important mudflap. Usually tyres would be nothing less than 28mm, sometimes with tread. Plenty of clearance for off-roading, perhaps a bike with a longer wheel-base. A saddle-bag is very useful, containing extra kit ~ in case you get caught out by the rain on a long Sunday ride (you can change in the cafe!). Other bits of kit consist of a spare pair of gloves for the same reason and I know some lads who carry a spare couple of tubes and even a tyre. I’ve heard stories of (but never witnessed) old-school pro’s riding through winter with a brick in their saddle bag, to make them stronger. I’m unsure if there is any evidence to back up if this experiment works! I’ve also heard stories of Freddie riding a steel MTB bike with drop handle-bars through winter (and still giving people a tough time on the road). 

Compare the above with how we see winter cycling marketed nowadays. I’ve not seen one mudguard in a photoshoot this year from many of the ‘top’ brands, and I don’t see many out on the road either (not to mention the vital mudflap!). Many new riders idea of a winter bike is their old racing bike, ie. their old summer bike before they bought their expensive new one! How anyone can be happy riding in a group getting covered in shite and covering their cycling compadre in shite off the road is beyond me! 

As for the the kit, I’ve seen brands push their ‘winter kit’ out there, consisting of a thin base-layer and thin polyester jersey! Unless this is a Gabba, Combi or Assos 851 jacket you’re likely to get cold riding in the North, this is especially true in the Peak District. Bib-shorts and leg-warmers are for riding in the Spring/early Autumn. Winter is the time for proper warm tights, really ‘biff’ overshoes. I suppose you could argue with the development of materials such as Gabba or Tempest, that the need for laying-up is changing, but you still wont see me leave the house in winter without a gilet on my back or in my jersey pocket (ever!). So what is deemed ‘acceptable attire’ for winter riding? I am questioning here weather cycling brands have turned their back on ‘authenticity’.

Round our way many riders will opt to wear a pair of winter shoes, MTB or recessed-cleated touring shoes ~ ideal if you need to carry the bike on the shoulder over black-ice or (hopefully) over some rough-stuff! Also great for walking around in the cafe or the pub! Fast carbon soled road shoes are saved for best.

All words by Thom Barnett 

Photos by Nick Newton

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Contemplating Yomp

"If everybody is doing it one way, there is a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction" - Sam Walton 

Sticking a label on the way you ride seems limiting. It goes against the spirit of cycling to me. Putting people into groups rather than seeing people as individuals is tribal. This can be problematic in the form of bike-riding, politics, thinking and all the vague post-modernist crap in-between!  

Regarding the bike, geography plays a big part - where you live influences your choice of rides which can influence the way you ride.

I’ve met London folk who are forced to do laps of parks to stay fit with the time they have available. I know folk who ride the flatter lanes of Yorkshire, fighting harsh crossed winds, pressing-on, since they don’t have the luxury of the hills of the Peak on their doorstep or a network of bridleways to explore. I’ve ridden with pro’s who clip off the front of group rides to do intervals and mountain-bikers who pootle around the hills and trails looking for a down-hill thrill. Rough-stuff riders whose aim is to get away from traffic, finding a nifty traverse or to stop to look at birds with a lightweight pair of binoculars around their necks (or in their saddle bag) ~ Are they still Yompin? 

Some people need the badge/label before they throw their leg over the top-tube. Fix-wheeling city slickers, rough-stuffer, audaxers and cafe run heroes! Excuse-makers, newbie-faffers ~ Are they still Yompin? I'm not so sure. Some people seem to get 'it', others don't. 

My family used the word 'yomp' when I was growing-up. It was the term we used to describe going for a long walk on a Sunday afternoon before dinner. At the time it made me think of walking from our house through Wickersley wood, Slacks Pond and over to Carr. Later in life I looked into the term and its association with the Royal Marines' long-distance loaded marches carrying full-kit. To me the term lent itself to describe a cycle-tourist riding around the world carrying his life on his bike. Later, I found the acronym of Yomp ~ Your Own Marching Pace, and I came to the conclusion this could could mean any type of riding (or hiking) if indeed the participant is doing it their own way - something I’ve always been drawn to. People doing things their own way, from eccentrics to free-thinkers, polemicists to  commentators. Life’s rich tapestry of ideas and knowledge. Somehow I’ve managed to convince myself (and others) that it’s all Yompin’. 

I like the idea of Yomp being something that crosses these borders, taking the best parts of all of riding and throwing them together into a little niche - continuing the spirit of what I think cycling is all about.  All this said, perhaps I’ve just been massively over-thinking it and maybe I should just ride the bloody bike!  

Words and 'Ice' photo by Thom Barnett 

'Pushing' and 'Club Run' photos by Nick Newton 

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The Independent Mind - Part 2

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.” AA Milne

 

Perhaps geniuses and prodigies are born knowing how to think for themselves, but most of us have to learn how. And unfortunately many never do. Perhaps it’s because they never had the right teacher at school or met the right friend to show them. Or perhaps because thinking for yourself isn’t easy.

To think properly requires an understanding of the subconscious biases of the human mind. To then make conscious compensations to avoid falling into the countless traps of fallacious thinking.

An example of one such trap is the common belief fallacy; “most people I know hold the same belief, therefore it must be true”. In many cases it may well be true of course, but a cursory look back at history will show an endless list of things that whole societies and even civilisations believed to be true that we now know are not.

Evolution by natural selection, arguably the greatest single idea in human history, provides the explanation. If you doubted the common belief of the tribe that tigers were dangerous and decided to find out for yourself instead, you probably wouldn’t last long enough to have any children who might inherit your way of thinking. In this way natural selection favoured credulous thinking and over time we evolved towards many aspects of herd behaviour.

While this evolved natural tendency of accepting what everyone around you thinks without question or evidence provided a shortcut to survival to our ancestors, in many situations of the modern world, it is unreliable and lazy at best. And fatally dangerous at worst.

A look at the common beliefs in the political ideologies of the 20th Century serve as a sobering warning to the extent of this danger counted in the death and ruined lives of hundreds of millions of people. Communism and Fascism both presented visions of human society that gained popular following because of irrational, biased thinking that led to common belief fallacies that in turn led to the horrors of the Gulag and the Holocaust.

Another example of cognitive irrationality is confirmation bias; the natural tendency to cherry pick arguments and evidence to support and confirm your existing beliefs and opinions. The more emotive a subject or the more you feel the belief is part of your identity, the stronger your confirmation bias tends to be. Over a wide range of subjects - from belief in God and abortion to taxation and wealth redistribution and onto military intervention and disarmament - there are people equally convinced of their opinion or beliefs on both sides of a given debate who have little understanding of the argument from the other side. Often their confirmation bias is so strong that they have no understanding at all; they have simply never listened to it. Instead they have shouted over it and attacked the person making the argument. This is, in itself, another example of a logical fallacy known as ad hominem - attacking or insulting the person making the argument or casting doubt on their character or motive rather than engaging in the argument itself.

Which brings us to the potential downsides or costs of thinking for yourself - it sometimes leads to disagreeing with your friends. If it is a ‘blue touch paper’ topic of conversation, you risk falling out with them. Picking your battles carefully and deciding which friendships matter are sensible and serious considerations.

You can have the same disagreement with yourself too when you challenge your own heartfelt preconceived ideas and beliefs. This can take you towards an existential crisis if you are not prepared for it. There is no doubting that thinking for yourself can be a risky business.

A final note to add to the cost ledger is that there are no shortcuts. You have to first understand at least some of the many ways in which your human nature works against you, then correct for them and finally, and most importantly, practice.

But this is where things swing strongly in favour of taking the risk and putting in the time and the effort. With practice you realise that because it takes time to listen to both sides of an argument, measure the evidence and form an opinion, there is no shame in not having an opinion until then. You free yourself from the expectation to have opinions on everything and to pretend to know more than you do.

The benefits to independent thinking include (but are in no way restricted to) taking responsibility, learning more, improving yourself and bringing yourself closer to the truth. Arguably the most valuable benefit though is the liberation that the honesty that comes with it brings. By thinking for yourself you free yourself to learn who you are.

 

Antoine Ventouse 

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Yomping and The Independent Mind

YOMP is a term used by the Royal Marines to describe a long distance march carrying full kit. It is thought to come from the acronym of Your Own Marching Pace. It is in this sense that it reflects the Mamnick ethos to do things your own way.
Dressing, bike riding and thinking are Mamnick’s main interests. Here is a brief Yomper's guide to each.
Dress your own way
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” Orson Welles
Street fashion tribes have been around for a long time. Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Skins, Punks, Casuals, Goths... the list goes on. Fastidious followers of these fashion fraternities have rarely dressed their own way. Instead they dress by the tribe's numbers - styles, colours, labels, pieces, combinations that their tribe has collectively decided are acceptable or unacceptable. They learn the rules and in the rules they trust.

The Yomper prefers mixing his clobber up and winging it over group-think. He trusts the mirror not the collective. Vintage, high street, independent or high end labels. Bespoke tailoring, fine knitwear and Goodyear welted traditional shoes one day. Cords, chinos or denim, full grain leather walking boots or classic trainers (depending on the terrain) and wax cotton jacket or high performance waterproof (depending on the weather) the next. They like to keep themselves thinking about the clothes they love and to keep others guessing.


Ride your own way
“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” Eddy Merckx
So many cycling tribes, so much boring waffle written about them. Hipster fixies, Eroica retro geeks, Strava segment chasers, Sportif warriors, training zone obsessed racers, ‘the rules’ roadies, mountain bikers and their countless sub-tribes, middle aged men who are 3 stone overweight on £5,000+ bikes lighter than those the pro’s ride and wearing kit that costs almost as much. (That last one isn’t really a tribe, but it’s definitely a thing.)

The Yomper's bike could be new or old, cheap or expensive (but never stupidly expensive). The frame might be from a prestigious marque or from a little known frame builder, fitted with a matching groupset or a mixture of components from different decades. Whichever way, it will be set up well and well looked after; a reliable steed that will take them over varying terrain on their epic adventures. Some Yompers prefer to ride alone for the simplicity and the solitude. Or perhaps because they haven't yet found kindred spirits to ride with. Some ride in groups but the numbers are usually small. Alone or on a group ride, the Yomper's concern is having a good time and not what other people think.

Think your own way
“Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way.” Christopher Hitchens
So many people prefer not to think for themselves. They take the safe, easy path and go with the majority. To confirm their opinions, they read and watch only the news that best fits their biases. On both social media and in real life, they like the safe sound of echo chambers with people who know what they like and like what they know and who enjoy the comforting feel of lazy pats on the back. To consider alternative opinions, arguments and evidence and seek the truth is too much like hard work. And it would mean risking being out of step which is not for them.

The Yomper knows how to think. He knows his cognitive bias from his rational thought, his science from his pseudo-science, his correlation from causation, his anecdote from evidence, his facts from his feelings.  He doesn't care for the safety of the herd - he values honesty and the truth over being seen to have the 'right' set of opinions.
Antoine Ventouse 
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