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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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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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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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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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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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 Upper Derwent Valley

We started our walk at the Cutthroat Bridge car park on the A57. I have walked and cycled around the woodland-fringed parts of the Derwent and Ladybower reservoirs many times so I decided a different approach was necessary. 

I have never been up to the Millstone grit escarpment that lies on Derwent Edge and when you get up to the junction and the moors that lie above, it feels altogether different in contrast to the valley, much of which is clothed in woodland and braken.

The steep-sided valley edge gives way to miles of bare and largely featureless moorland apart from the occasionally weirdly shaped rocky outcrops that the locals have given names to. At regular intervals you are faced with extravagantly shaped gritstone that has been weathered over many years to produce extraordinary formations. 

Their names reflect what some would say resemble their shape and outline - The Wheel Stones, Salt Cellar, Hurkling Stones and Cakes of Bread. Some have less prosaic names (but are no less striking) including Dovestone Tor and Back Tor (the name of the first Mamnick shirt!). 

The views from the top are certainly worth the effort of scrambling up there, taking in Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Win Hill to the west as well as down to the reservoirs. It's a fantastic view this time of year. 

We headed east down the valley side, the path turns into a track that leads to Foulstone Farm and onto The Strines. We stopped for a half of pale-ale and a pork-pie in the Strines Inn before taking the footpath off Mortimer Road, cutting through another farm. By this time the sun was setting, silhouetting Win Hill and the wooden pylons. A nice walk that takes 3/4 hours depending on how long you stay in the pub! 


All words and photos by Thom Barnett.


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Alport Castles - The UK's Biggest Landslide

We started our walk at 10am in the Derwert Valley beneath the stone ramparts of the Derwent dam with a cup of tea. Fairholmes car-park apparently has a history of its own, I found this out afterwards after noticing the crumbling foundation of the farm and doing some research when I got home. During the construction of the reservoirs the car-park was a masons’ yard it would have likely reverberated the sounds of workers' cutting and shaping stone for the the dams. 


Leaving the valley our route climbs up through Lockerbrook Coppice. Leaving the trees, the route follows the top edge of the vast Hagg Side spruce plantation, before climbing further to Bellhag Tor. We saw a numbers of British finch and Kestrels' all the way across the top, before getting the first glance of the slips in the area. Having crossed the over the stile onto Rowlee Pastures, here you get the first glimpse of the largest landslip in England and our destination for today’s dinner - cheese and pickle on a white bap, plus a pork pie (Thanks Lulu!).

It is called Alport Castles and you can see why when you are stood on The Tower. You look across at a chaotic jumble of tumbled gritstone boulders and grassy covered mounds; It’s a real spectacle. We ate our sandwiches on The Ridge before climbing down to the path that leads to Alport Castles farm. By this time it has started to rain. 

We followed the track down past the farm and followed the valley, seeing and hearing a number of large Jays’. Although they are classed as vermin, I think they are quite a beautiful bird. By this time the rain was torrential and we were both getting quite wet, but still smiling!

We crossed the A57 Snake Road, followed the track and took the bridge over the ford. We continued on the path past Upper Ashop Farm and followed the grassy road called Blackley Hey. Entering the Pinewoods, it smelt great due to the damp and the light was really atmospheric. This path took us all the way down to Yorkshire Bridge and back to the Lady Bower reservoir - back around our car and home for a cup of tea and a well-deserved bath!

I'd recommend this route for anyone looking for a full-day Yomp, it was 14.5 miles round trip with some really scenic views from the very beginning. There are a number of get-out routes on the A57 if you get into any difficulty.

I'd recommend finishing the walk with a pint in the Lady Bower Inn! 


All words and photos by Thom Barnett

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