Inner City Trout

An unlikely hole for pristine jewels on the River Sheaf, Sheffield.

All photos by Thom Barnett and Darren Williamson



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The Yompshire Bothy

4 men, 2 days, 14,568 feet, 1 county, 1 bothy, 8 pork pies. 

A ride that will be forever remembered as the The Yompshire Bothy.

Photos by Thom Barnett & Tom Stewart



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Tour de Yompshire

5 men, 269.3 miles, 15,877 feet, 3 days, 1 county, 5 bags of Jelly Babies. 

A ride that will be forever remembered as the Tour de Yompshire. 

Photos by Tom Stewart

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Nether Red Brook

The Nether Red Brook scramble is probably one of the most interesting of all Peak Districts scrambles and lends itself to a full-day out in Derbyshire. Our route followed the Ashop river to the foot of the scramble that takes you up to Kinder Scout quite close to the Kinder Downfall. We then followed the track around Fairbrook Naze and back down to the Snake Pass Inn. 

If you want to give it a go, the best map for the route is the Ordnance Survey OL1 (The Peak District / Dark Peak Area). 

All images by Thom Barnett 

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For my friend Steve.

It feels incredibly strange writing this as I doubt I’ve really come to terms with what happened yesterday. I thought this might be a fitting tribute to Steve’s life and the huge impression that he has had on mine. I am also hoping that by writing this down it will help me come to terms with what has happened.
I met Steve when I was working with vintage clothing about 15 years ago. He came into the shop where I worked, usually with his son Beau, and we would chat about clobber. We would discuss the finer details of items and brands we liked. We both shared a love for modernist design (without calling ourselves ‘mods’) and I guess that evolved into chatting loads about the ivy look in more recent years.
Although he was about 15 years older than me, I felt like we had an unspoken mutual respect for one another. I valued his opinion and (I think) he valued mine. Steve was always a good guy to ask “What do you think of this?” and I would do that a lot!
Our friendship grew and grew and for nearly 10 years we would meet on Wednesday nights down the Sheaf pub for a few pints, a good natter, the quiz, a game of cards, usually finishing the night off with a whiskey! It has always been a good laugh and without a doubt, those nights have been the highlight of the week for so long.
In a professional sense, I have been so lucky to have worked with Steve on so much Mamnick stuff. He brought a flair, wit, and humour to my ideas and brand. My house and showroom are littered with his sketches and work. I had the pleasure of being able to sit and watch him work on so many occasions. He’d influence and give me ideas, without ever expecting anything in return. I could only describe the feeling as ‘magical’ to witness Steve when he had a pen or pencil in his hand. Without a doubt, he was the most talented bloke I know and he was so humble about his skills, I’d sometimes find it frustrating!
I feel extremely lucky and proud to have worked with him, but more importantly, to have had the fortune to call him a close friend and to be so close to him and his family during his last days.
I know you’d be laughing your head off if you could see the tangle I am in writing this, but honestly, my life will never be the same without you and I am going to miss you so much.
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Local Riders Q&A ~ James Knox

James Knox is a Britsh rider with a very bright future! Born in Cumbria in the North-West of the UK, it comes as no surprise that he is somewhat of a climbing specialist.

After riding for both Zappi and Team Wiggins between 2014-2017 he announced that he was turning professional in 2018 and is currently riding for UCI WorldTeam Deceuninck-Quick-Step.

James has already ridden two grand-tours (Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana) in 2019.

Many thanks to James for completing the Mamnick quiz

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

I guess I'm proud of all my results, step by step they've improved over the years and I've come a long way since I started in 2012. Can't really argue that the 11th overall at La Vuelta is the peak for me at the moment, could never have imagined I'd be able to say that.

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

Plethora of lovely roads I grew up riding on, it's hard to choose, but my first rides were from mine (just outside Kendal) to my Granddad's in Kirkby Stephen. My dad would get us to ride over since I was quite little. The roads from Sedbergh or over Barbondale and Dentdale to get there are beautiful, plus it's nearly always a taily too and there's barely any traffic unlike the lakes.

The same question for roads anywhere in the world?

I was pretty impressed with the Dolomites when I've raced there... Hard to beat West Coast of Scotland too. 

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

Probably the day I found out Quickstep wanted to sign me in 2017, I'd been blindly chasing this dream for a few years by this point and guess it hit me pretty hard when I realised one of the biggest teams in the world had offered me a contract. 

Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?

That's a tough one, maybe I'm a bit more aware of the risk now because of a few years of racing. Hardly feels worth it smashing down descents or whatever in training when you know you've got to put on the line in a race next week. Not sure what else has changed, maybe an extra appreciation for being able to park up and have a café stop after a couple hours instead of hacking on. 

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

Mickey Goldmill's probably not far off the money, my mentor Flavio Zappi told me early on that energy needs to be spent training, not chasing.

We are in the midst of a well publicised boom in cycling in the UK at the moment. Has it affected you? Do you have any thoughts about why it has happened and whether it will continue? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?

Honestly, it hasn't really affected me an awful lot, I grew up in a cycling family even if I didn't take up racing until I was a bit older so it did seem a bit peculiar when suddenly cycling became more mainstream. I remember whilst at secondary school of at least 1000 pupils there were only 3 of us who paid any interest in cycling, me, my brother and a technology teacher who was a local racer, and that was it. Wiggins winning the Tour and the London Olympics changed that overnight. It's great more people are cycling but it feels like local events are struggling so that's disappointing, if you called yourself a cyclist 10 years ago it meant you turned up to your local 10 and evening crit. The obvious negative is the conflict on the roads, more people cycling seems to create a bigger issue for people in cars, especially now there's probably worse percentage skilled and road aware cyclists kicking about. Shouldn't be a big issue but everyone's in a rush aren't they. 

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

Everyone likes to feel fast don't they, doesn't matter what ability you are. 

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

Not massively, I still love being out on the road, the simple pleasures of finding new roads or doing a big loop. Not someone who worries about numbers or efforts so the bulk of my training is just riding and giving it a nudge every now and then.

Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?

I was a fan of the sport before I started racing so there's been plenty of riders I've admired over the years. To pick just a few, Contador made a big impact on me when he exploded onto the scene in 2007, dancing on the pedals without any seeming effort, something I dreamed of replicating I guess. I found myself rooting for Joaquim Rodriguez a lot too, something about his punchy style and diminutive stature was just so cool. Philippe Gilbert as well, just raw power out of the saddle and was never afraid to take the race on, even if it might cost him the win. Another rider with style you'd want to try and pull off in training too, pretty mad that we ended up as teammates after watching him win everything in 2011. Finally, Oscar Freire, read some articles about him and just found thought he was mystical, managed to get lost all day before winning worlds, barely trained and wouldn't see him in a race before he shot out of the bunch at 150m to go. Go watch the 1999 world championship in Verona on YouTube, up there as one of the best finishes ever to a bike race, 8 of the best riders in the world watching the unknown at the time Freire ride off at 800m to go and unable to do anything about it, so good. 

What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?

Probably the years that I first started watching, the post Lance years basically. The first races I properly remember are Bettini doing the double at World's then Lombardia, crossing the line full in tears and head to toe in the world champs stripes, what a time to start watching. 

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

I bought a pair of Oakley M-frames off ebay when I was 17 or so, the one's that didn't bend, I was so made up with them. 

What do you think about Strava?

Yeah, I'm into it. It's great for finding new roads, plotting big days and I use the times on climbs as reference for training.

What do you think about Sportive rides?

Don't want to shoot myself in the foot if I become a sportive rider or set up my own in the future, but right now I don't really get it, for quite a few reasons. My dad does a couple each year, normally the Fred Whitton and he says it gives him a reason to ride when he might sack it off when we get into a discussion about it, so taking that into account, I can't knock it too much. 

Do you have any cycling pet hates?

Tiny handpumps that put in a couple psi per stroke, what a wind up they are. 

Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behavior? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?

Hmmm, I'm not maybe a huge traditionalist so this isn't easy for me. I've noticed this trend of power meters and coaches taking over though, every 16 year old thinks they need minute by minute training and numbers set, don't really get where that's come from and it's made so many people restricted to what they do. Enjoy riding your bike first and foremost, everything else will come eventually. 

Cotton cap or helmet?

Cotton cap is definitely the style option, but I've been raised to wear a helmet so I would never go training without it. 

The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?

I'm a smaller side so I end up spinning a bit more to keep up I feel, but I wish I had a bit more gas to turn a bigger gear. 75rpm has a nice look to it. 

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?

Bit of everything, quite enjoy getting my teeth stuck into something meaty to pass the time, I prefer to train with people for company and a good natter makes the whole process more enjoyable. 

Which three words best describe you?

Small. Man. Syndrome. 

Did you used to listen to music before a race? If so, did you have a favourite tune or playlist?

I have a TT warm-up playlist and that's it. Just some different techno and disco tunes to get me in the mood, finishing with 'Glue' by Bicep. I don't do a proper warm-up, I just ride as easy as I can and let the nerves do their thing anyway, so the music helps a lot. 

When were/are you most happy?

Sat in just my chamois sunbathing at the cafe, when applicable of course, that's a happy place. Fanta Limón ready to slide down my gullet, can almost taste it just thinking about it. 

Who would be your guests at your perfect dinner party (dead or alive)?

Maybe get Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington round for a curry, keep it light hearted. Guess it would be foolish to pass the opportunity to get the few of the Knox lineage out as well, speak to some great Grandparents and beyond I never got to meet. Impossible question if we're being honest, too many options.

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

I'd go back and see the dinosaurs getting wiped out.

When was the last time you cried?

I cried over the line on stage 20 of the Vuelta, not sure why and wasn't thinking I'd be infront of the camera's at the time. The whole race just sort of hit me at that moment, a wave of euphoria and pain all in one, it was all too much. 

When did you laugh the hardest? 

Not sure, I laugh a lot I think, hard to remember what at. 

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

I prefer to wing it, unless it's something serious, then I can't survive without a plan.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

Nothing, it's all there to be learned from.

Actually, I won my first big race at the Junior Tour of Wales in 2012, we were all watching Geordie Shore in my team and we had a joke that if someone won a stage they had to do that Gaz pose with his thumb to his nose. Don't know if anyone remembers this or watched the shoe, I ended up winning and delivered on the promise, it'd be nice to know I never did that. I also squirted a gel at junior rider when he wouldn't give me a turn when I was younger, what a little runt I was/am. 

What single thing would improve the quality of your life? 

I'd throw my smart phone against the wall and get something that I could only use to ring people, use WhatsApp and email and that's it. 



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Local Riders Q&A ~ Ben Swift

Born in Rotherham in 1987, Ben Swift has had a amazing professional career and is currently the British National Road Race Champion, riding for UCI WorldTeam Team Ineos. 
He made his professional road debut in 2007 joining Barloworld as a trainee during which time he won the King of the Mountains title in the Tour of Britain.
After joining Katusha, he lead out teamate Filippo Pozzato in 2009 and described himself as "an allrounder who can do well in the Classics". He has proven himself with some amazing rides, most notably, finishing third (2014) and second (2016) at the prestigious Milan ~ San Remo mounment. 
Big thanks to Ben for taking the time to do the Mamnick quiz
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
I have a few that I am really proud of, some results and some just achievements.
Representing Team GB as a 19 year old in the Beijing Olympics Road Race was very special. Along with that it was a big deal to me to be selected for my first Tour de France and making it to Paris and being in the breakaway in front of my family.
Results wise, a few stand out - my stage victory with some very elite climbing talent in Pais Vasco was a big one. I have been close a number of times there. My World Title on the track was a dream to get that jersey. Then my podiums in Milan ~ San Remo! They were special, but I would like to get that final top step! 
Which is your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
There are so many to choose from, but I think one that never gets old is climbing up from Owler Bar heading to Fox House. I know its not a nice small quite back lane but the views that you get are amazing and it also brings back so many memory’s. I am fortunate to be able to use the roads now that I also did as a young and hopeful rider. Before I use to venture out further that was one of my loops in the hills, so it's nice to be able to go down memory lane.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
That’s a very difficult one, I am lucky to have ridden my bike in a lot of beautiful places. Each place has its own charm. But I think one that stands out is the coast road through Deia in Mallorca (not in the peak of summer, as it's too busy!) When I’m there in December, with some winter sun, quiet roads and a lovely blue sky dropping into the mountains and into the sea - it’s hard to beat!
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
I have had a lot of moments that I have relived over and over again in my head, mainly when I have come so close to winning a bike race and thinking what I could have done slightly different. But I think one that stands out and is very special is arriving in Paris in my first Tour de France. Feeling the rush and excitement and then hitting the famous cobbles, that’s a feeling and emotion that you only get once!
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
It is definitely a job for me, but I love the training and the just ‘riding my bike’ side of it as well. I think the older I am getting the more I am enjoying been on my bike and going for epic rides.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
I think there is some truth in that, I know a lot of riders that could have been brilliant but lost their way a little and got distracted. What I think strengthens your legs is having a great woman by your side, that is with you and understands the ups and down of the sport. Cycling takes up a lot of time, so having the right woman in your life is critical.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
I have been cycling my whole life I did my first race at the age of 3, although I didn’t take it serious with training programs and stuff until I was a junior. I used to spend all my time on the bike at home, I use to train by racing my friends around and spending a lot of time in the woods on the jumps. That is something that has changed a lot, I scare myself thinking of the jumps and tricks I use to do. I have definitely lost that skill set now that I ride my bike as a job.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Having been involved in my sport for nearly 30 years I have seen a lot of different riders. When I was growing up I read Cycling Weekly and I'd cut photos out to plaster my walls. But I was much more in ore of riders in our local area. I remember been excited if I saw Russ Downing, John Tanner and Chris Walker. It felt like they were the heroes of our area and I think it showed how strong Yorkshire was (and still is!).
But as I got more into watching racing I really use to love Eric Dekker, David Ecchibeier, and Robbie McEwen
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
It has to be the era that captured my attention the late 90’s early 00’s. It’s when the real lead-out game started and you still had people trying their hand on late attacks it was a very exciting time and even on the one-days and in the mountains, I remember watching some epic battles! 
Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?
This is a good one, I think if you are going to do it you need to do it properly and go for the full set-up of a real winter bike. Unfortunately, that’s not something I am able to do at the moment with having to use trade kit. I use occasionally the clip on guards but it cracks me when it makes noises and scratches your bike, so I prefer to go without and just get wet.
One thing for sure is that when I retire, I will be getting a very nice full winter bike! 
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
It very much depends on what I am doing, early winter post break or recovery rides or easier general rides I do like a good coffee stop although they are different now from when I was a kid, they use to be all about beans on toast and a cup of tea. Now it's more of a coffee and maybe some cake. But when I have efforts or a solid paced endurance ride, I don’t stop.
Assos, Rapha or neither?
I have bought a bit of both in the past but I think I would choose Assos out of the two.
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
I think it has to be glasses these days. I am contracted to wear my kit and ride my bike, we also have to use Oakley’s but the glasses are something that we can change around with colour and styles so it gives us a little bit of individualism.
I do remember as a kid I use to wear a very cool Pantani Pirate bandana under my helmet I don’t think I could pull that off now though actually not sure I could back then!
Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
All depends on what I am doing and what part of the season it is. If I can and the ride allows, I love exploring and finding new roads and new climbs. Bit of the rough stuff at times is always good to keep it exciting. Sometimes I do have to crack on down the B roads but that’s my least favourite.
What do you think about Strava?
It's fun sometimes especially if you take a segment off a mate. I don’t upload much, just a little, but I think it’s a great tool to use if you are trying to look at a climb length and difficulty, every climb on there is pretty much full-gas, so you know that the time required for the KOM needs to be good.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
They are good, anything to get more people out and stuck into more riding.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
It really annoys me when I see cyclists a bit all over the place the ones that give us a bad name. I have to spend a lot of time on the road so we defiantly get the brunt of the abuse.
Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?
Maybe club-rides? It use to be a big thing, maybe it still is and I just don’t see it anymore. But I remember it use to be important to join a club and do your club-run on a Sunday. Early morning in the group with a traditional café stop. Now you see a lot of smaller groups and individuals out. I might be very wrong though.
Cotton cap or helmet?
100% helmet for me
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?
There is a balance somebody that can hold an even cadence of around 85-95 solid looking on the bike nice and fluid look great.
White, black or coloured socks?
Depends on the mood and the weather. Black in wet, nice white in the sun. Then sometimes when you don’t care, a multi-coloured pair. But out of all of them white socks and shoes is the best combo.
Frame pump or mini pump?
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?
Good bit of lightweight banter. Cycling is too hard to go into deep subjects.
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?
Well having done a few tandem grass track racing a fair few years ago I would have to stick with the winning combo of myself as captain and Adam Blythe as stoker. We won a few races and even managed some bunny hops.
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Around the World with Rutland CC pt.2

Can you tell us about that morning that you woke up with the Indian guys with shovels stood around your tent?
The photo of the guys with the shovels was, in fact, Pakistan – this was our first night in Pakistan on the road north. We flew in from Athens and landed in Karachi. The flight was one to remember, it was packed full of Pakistani’s – Coucho got sat next to a Pakistani guy on the flight and tried to make conversation, in very slow English he asked the guy “what’s it like in Pakistan” – the guy answered in a very strong Yorkshire accent, “Don’t know mate, I’ve never been there before – I’m from Bradford, I’m going there on holiday!”
The flight attendants had a mission trying to get everyone seated ready for take-off, people were getting up and moving around the cabin talking to each other. With everyone finally seated we got underway – no sooner had the plane took off people were up out of their seats scrambling around trying to get up the aisle at 30 degrees to talk to others in seats further up, much to the dismay of the air hostesses!! Once at cruising altitude one guy started getting out a small Primus stove in the aisle to make a cup of tea before a hostess saw him and grabbed it off him!!
When we finally landed, as soon as the wheels touched the tarmac, everyone was up grabbing bags out of the overhead lockers as though there was no tomorrow!! We went through customs and cleared our pannier bags and bikes then put the bikes together ready to leave the airport – we had no maps but new that we were heading for Hyderabad.
I will never forget the sight that confronted us once out in the open air – the pollution was so intense, we could look straight into that huge big yellow blob that was the sun – no sun glasses needed. We set off riding but only got a short distance as Brian had a problem with his bike, one of the teeth had got bent on his big chain ring so we had to stop and do a repair. The instant that we stopped we were immediately mobbed by a huge crowd of people who completely surrounded us looking at the bikes and us trying to ask questions in pigeon English. We got the chain ring sorted and managed to get riding and found a cheap hostel for the night. We went out to a restaurant for a curry and the food was ok considering the place was pretty dirty.
Next morning we left Karachi on the main highway north, it wasn’t very long before we got into hot, dry desert conditions. Many cars and trucks passed us cheering out the windows, some trucks and cars with people on the roofs, hanging on the sides, back and literally anywhere they could get a hold on. One car pulled up and waved us down, the three young guys were doctors and spoke perfect English – they gave us a cardboard box with small cakes that looked really nice. We thanked them and carried on. As mentioned before, we didn’t have a map so no idea how far it was to the next town, we stopped at a roadside eating place and had a glass of tea each but didn’t fancy the food plus we were mobbed again so just wanted to get out of there.
We made a decision that night to put the tent up in the desert a few metres off the road – at least we had the box of cakes and some very dry bread rolls so couldn’t wait to get tucked in. These cakes were horrendous!! We were running very low on fuel for the Primus stove and only managed a couple of drinks of tea before it ran out. We just thought best thing is to sleep and not think about being hungry. Next morning we heard voices outside which did concern us, we opened the tent flap to see a group of what looked like road workers. We all got out the tent and the guys just stood there looking at us – none spoke English so we got them to stand in a line with their shovels for a good photo shoot!
Did have come into any conflict with your fellow riders during the ride? You must have spent so much time together and let's face it, cyclists can be a finicky!
To be honest, even though we spent lots of time together we got on pretty well. We did have an agreement that when we left Sheffield we all had exactly the same amount of money – from memory I think this was 1,400 pounds each, however Minty didn’t have as much as the rest of us and to this day I think this may have been one of the reasons why he returned back to Sheffield from Athens when we carried on to Pakistan. We carried travellers cheques and each one of us took turns to change a hundred pound at a time and pay for everything till it ran out then it was someone else’s turn. This included buying all food, accommodation etc. This obviously meant that we all ate the same food, drank the same beer etc. We were quite late leaving Sheffield, we originally planned to leave end of summer but our departure was delayed till October because Brian and Les had bought a rental property which needed lots of work doing before they could leave. Due to the time of departing, we hit some pretty bad weather especially in Germany and Yugoslavia. We bought a 4 man and a 2 man tent, probably the cheapest you could get at the time plus the cheapest sleeping bags. We absolutely froze many nights in sub zero temperatures – looking back we were pretty stupid not gearing up with some top notch gear but at the end of the day we were on a really tight budget.
Whilst travelling through Germany and Austria, Brian developed a knee problem which was getting worse by the day and limiting the amount of miles we could do per day. Brian decided to get on a train to take the load of his knee which he hoped would heal whatever was wrong. Whilst on the train Brian met a girl from Villach who said he could stay at her parents home till we got there. We made it to Villach a few days later and the family took us in for the night and gave us a big feed. They had a mountain chalet up in the ski fields and said we could all stay there for a few days for a bit of a break. Next morning we went to the supermarket and stocked up on food and drink and the family drove us up to their chalet and left us there for a few days. We had a great time walking in the mountains, chilling out and repaid their hospitality by building some stone steps up to the chalet. One night after a few beers we got onto discussing the next leg of our trip and Les came up with the idea of splitting up and riding in smaller groups – his reason was that we could get more hospitality in smaller groups rather than 5 of us together. We all decided against this because this was one of the reasons why we left together so we could stay together and have a good laugh as a group.
Anyway, Les had made his mind up and when we got back to the families home in Villach he decided to set off on his own and give it a go so we said our goodbyes and said that we would see him again in Athens at one of the Youth Hostels. We carried on as a group without Les and after leaving Austria and crossing into Yugoslavia the weather really deteriorated. We finally got through the bad weather and hit Greece where the temperatures increased to make riding a lot more pleasurable. We arrived in Athens and made our way to the Youth Hostel and hoped to catch up with Les only to find that he had left a note telling us that he had gone to a Greek Island for a few days to have a look around. We decided to get out of the hostel as this was costing us un-necessary money hanging around waiting so we managed to find a quiet spot on the coast hidden away where we pitched the tents – camping in Greece was illegal unless you stayed on an official campsite.
We lived pretty rough for those few days but had a good laugh chilling out swimming in the sea and trying to catch some fish. We found that the harder the conditions, the closer we got and supported each other through the bad times. Believe me, riding like we did is not all good. Obviously we saw some great scenery and had some great times but we also had days when you just want to pack it all in and call it a day!
You mentioned in one of your previous answers the winter rough-stuff rides, since a few of us are still trying to keep that tradition going in Derbyshire and the Peak District, could you describe the kind of riding you were doing back then? Can you remember any of the routes? Or do you have any good stories from riding in the Peak?
Back in the mid / late 70’s – 80’s the winter rough stuff rides were such a big part of the Rutland CC. Myself, Lee White and Malcolm, Charlie, Chattle started the mid-week Thursday night winter rides. We used to go out up Rivelin, Loxley Valley, Redmires on the tracks then finish up in the Rivelin Hotel for a few bears.
Around Guy Fawkes night we used to take some fireworks with us and chuck bangers near to the courting couples cars parked up. Then Malc Cross (RIP) started coming out with us on the rides and when the weather improved we used to collect mushrooms to take home. Malc Cross was an expert on all types of mushrooms. It didn’t take too long before these Thursday night rides took off with a good gang of us going out but each Thursday night ride finished up in the Rivelin Hotel. The landlord and landlady took us in and made us really welcome, the pub took on another name “Lou’s Palace” affectionately named by us after the landlord.
There used to be a guy that played the piano so we had some great sing song nights. During winter we did rough stuff rides on the Thursday nights but during the race season these became training rides, but they still always finished up in the Rivelin Hotel!
Never forget the night that Malc Elliot’s dad brought Malc to the meet at Malin Bridge and asked if we would look after him. Malc was only a young “whipper snapper” on a 26 inch wheel bike so we took him under our wing and looked after him on our training ride over Moscar to Castleton and back. We couldn’t believe how strong this young guy was especially on steel rims and heavy sports bike.
The rest was history as Malc went from strength to strength – we set him up with a proper road bike and from then on he won just about everything he rode. We introduced Malc to the winter Thursday night rough stuff nights – one of the rules was on a clear moonlit night we all turned off our lights but Malc couldn’t cope with this and whinged and complained and insisted on having his front light on much to the disgust of the rest of us! One of us pulled his front light off and chucked it away – Malc commented, “it’s like taking away me eyes” – this name soon stuck as his nick name ~ “Me Eyes!!” This just about summed up the winter Thursday night rides which went on for years. The Sunday Club runs during winter were also pretty epic. We had a pretty intense racing season during summer and at the end of this a handful of us used to go away on holiday to Benidorm, Majorca, Corfu etc. After this we were into the winter club runs.
We used to meet and do our best to get off the roads and onto the tracks, Moors etc. as much as possible. The format of the winter runs was to do rough stuff in the morning and always – without doubt – finish up in a pub somewhere for beers, darts, dominoes and a pub meal. John Barnsley (RIP) used to bring out a football so when we came out the pub we had a game of football on the local green. These games went on for ages and at times got pretty intense. We would then ride home with a stop off at a café. Sundays in winter were pretty intense, if we were lucky the pub would allow some “after bird” drinking which meant that in some cases we were riding home very late afternoon and even early evening somedays and then home, shower and on the bus into town to finish the day off with a pub crawl around Sheffield City Centre.
When I look back on some of the rides we did they were pretty hard going. Epic rides, after the pub, were Cut Gate Moor to Ladybower then ride home – Snake Inn then across the road and over the moors to Edale. We’ve done these rides in pouring rain, snow, pitch darkness. Some of the best times were after a big snow fall – only the hardcore of us turned up but boy did we have some fun rides! We would take a big sheet of plastic each and sledge down the hills in the deep snow – usually after a few beers in a pub somewhere. These times I will never forget and often wish that I could turn back the clock and do them all again – real character building rides!
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Miles Munchers #1 ~ Felix Ormerod

I’ve always had a fascination with cycling images from the past. In the early rise of the internet, I collected photos on a hard-drive and posted them on a Tumblr account. This lead to online conversations with many people from all over the cycling world. I still like scouring the web for images of cycling past. I am fascinated by the history of club rides and personal stories and how the bike plays a roll in the lives of so many people. Some of the best tales and rides are done by those who wouldn’t even declare themselves athletes!
I introduced myself to Felix on Flickr, after finding some of his photos from his tours around Ireland in the mid-1980s. I sent him a message, introducing myself and asked if I could do a Q&A to publish on this Journal. The result of our conversations is below.
Many thanks to Felix for being so generous with his time and for allowing me to publish his great photos here. 
Click on photos to enlarge 
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
That's a tricky one when one hasn't really achieved any great cycling heights and no ride or tour really stands out. Perhaps it was plucking up courage after a phone call [to inquire whether his entry in Richard's Bicycle Book was still valid] to go and visit Major Nichols to discuss ordering a hand-made bike. Most of my CTC group were riding Ephgrave, Condor or Hobbs cycles and I needed something a little exotic.
I can still see myself cycling up Raglan Road in Cape Hill on my mass-produced Claud Butler and spending what seemed like hours in his shop listening to the master talk about components and racing cyclists I'd never heard off, nodding vigorously, hoping he'd make me a bike. He was 68 at that time. He did and I'm still riding that one. He built me a couple more frames after that as he seemed to like me [not universal].
He died 14 years ago at an advanced age but his frames still live on.
I noticed you spent 7 years cycling returning to Ireland to ride. Can you tell us a bit more about that. What was it that drew you to Ireland?
I'd already done a few tours in Mid and South Wales - the former was a really wild expanse and I can't remember what interested me about Ireland - living at the time near Heathrow Airport, it was really easy in those days to ride to the departure hall, put your prepared bike in a big plastic bag, bring all your tools into the cabin as hand luggage and be out on the bike within a couple of hours. Easier than going to Scotland in fact, yet one was using a different currency. I've never been interested in France and have only spent two days there in my life. The West of Ireland was really wild and rugged but you were never far from a village with a shop or hostel. If something went wrong, you were never far from help ... like when my bottom bracket spindle broke at Gougane Barra right at the end of a tour and I had to bribe a bus driver to get me back to Cork from Macroom, the cycle shop there having chosen not to open that day.
Northern Ireland was also intriguing in the late 80s. No English people were touring there so it was an odd but rewarding experience. Photography was not easy, e.g. once taking a photo of an old building in full cycling kit, I was surrounded by humorless RUC officers with peaked caps pulled down over their eyes asking what I was doing. That was rather scary. All the people in the North were very welcoming, you just had to read the situation in the Guest Houses and act accordingly. They'd tell you where to go and tell the pub, or whatever, who had sent you.
I forgot to mention that my mother had ancestors from Mayo [Ballintubber] who came over to England like many others at the time into Lancashire. So I was also curious to visit - in fact, Mayo became my favorite part of Ireland for cycling. I have no desire to return to the country now.
How about the Hungary trip? How did that one come about?
It was only the fourth time I left England and Wales. I'd organized a YHA trip to South Central Finland with some friends the previous year and wanted to go somewhere a bit more exotic. Perhaps I was thinking of the tenuous relationship between the Finnish and Hungarian languages. I think I wanted to go where few others went.
At an Essex CTC dinner the previous year I was talking to an elderly rider called Charlie Merritt who amazed me with tales of cycling in Czechoslovakia in previous decades. In those days we had to inform our managers at work if we traveled to Eastern Europe "because of the dangers...". The Essex club members were treated to an annual slide show given by the likes of Neville Chanin, but they never went behind the Iron Curtain, which was shortly to fall 18 months after our visit to Hungary. It also had a nice mixture of flatlands and mountain nothing much over 1000m.
I planned a trip to communist Czechoslovakia the next year, again before the "change" but nearly died during an attack of viral pneumonia shortly beforehand and the others went without me.
You mentioned in our first exchange that you had a love for older, more traditional framed bicycles. Why is this?
Frames hadn't changed much between 1950 and the mid-1980s, so that was what everyone was riding, brake cables, toe-clips and straps. Just like Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault in fact. And don't they still look great on them in those pictures? I never moved into the present, not wanting to learn additional maintenance skills. I used to tour abroad on steel cranks and cotter pins, since one could always borrow a hammer [as I once had to in East Germany to remove a broken fixed bottom bracket cup] if need be.
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (from the past or present)?
I picked up a pair of pink wool mixture cycling jerseys in Denmark of which I still have one That was fairly outrageous in pre-pre-Rapha times. I lent a good friend one and we rode as the pink composite team in a 2-up time trial. I was useless as usual.
The only components I can't do without are TA cranks and rings and Mafac polycarbonate-hooded levers which are paired on most of my bikes. Major liked the latter. Unfortunately, the growth of Eroica style events has pushed up the second-hand prices. Cycling shops tend not to stock much for me - tires and inner tubes, perhaps, but even they are giving way to tubeless. Nothing much from the present really interests me, although I do fit modern lights. Just think, we used to ride through the night with cardboard EverReady 800s twin-packs front and back.
Oh, and a Brooks leather saddle [mainly but not exclusively Professional] is indispensable.
I want to ask you a question about your interest in locomotives as your photography tells me you're a bit of a spotter?
It was pretty normal to have such interests back in the 60s. As schoolboys, some of us would go up to London and ride around the North London line to Willesden Junction in empty carriages through stations covered in weeds - it has all changed now.
In 1991 I did some touring in East Germany with a friend who was also interested in trains so we could divert to stations or railway lines when other cyclists would have been bored or not interested. That was a great tour. I'd also become fascinated by trams and trolleybuses through my latter jaunts into Eastern Europe, having missed them in the UK. The Czech Republic is probably the best country for a cycle tour based around those modes of urban transport, not that I ever cycled there - public transport was so cheap back then.
All images by Felix Ormerod
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