This Saturday (10th March) is the return of Sheffield's unique urban dual slalom race, the Howard Street Dual. Airdrop rider Brett is set to defend his title and we'll be there with some new stuff to show off...
This could only happen in Sheffield. A hand-picked lineup featuring some of Sheffield and the UK's fastest riders go head-to-head on a specially built course right in the city centre. There will also be a bunch of Sheffield's local bike companies, a Redbull DJ, food beer... and plenty of room for spectators. If you can get to Sheffield this weekend, you've gotta come and see the race.
Here's what the race organiser, Nick Hamilton has got planned for us:
"The devilishly difficult Howard Street Dual course will pitch the best riders against each other and the resulting spectacle will surprise and delight seasoned race fans, families of all ages and unsuspecting passers by. To enhance the drama this year we will be racing in the dark; once the sun goes down the course will be lit up making the elbow to elbow action even more entertaining.
"The riders will race from the top of Hallam Square, across the front from Sheffield Hallam university’s main building and on down to the bottom of Howard street. They must negotiate a series of features sendable by the best and rollable by all. It mixes man-made constructions with street furniture, flat grass corners and custom wooden features. Last year the finish fadeaway and infamous chaos corner claimed many riders winning ways.
In true This is Sheffield style, every rider who races will get a prize from our incredibly generous sponsors combined with a big cheer and all the glory. The fastest racers on the day will get to pick from the pile first. We have space for 32 lads and 32 lasses. Due to the nature of the event entry is by invite only and subject to race experience and radness."
This year's race is a slightly different format to last year, with quails starting at 3pm in the afternoon, racing at 5pm and finals kicking off from about 7pm. That means it's a day/night format which will spice things up nicely. Everyone gets a couple of seeding runs, then the racing starts in earnest with the fastest qualifiers going up against the slowest in a knock-out format. There are 32 men and 32 women racing, and with two runs per round there will be tonnes of action to get stuck into.
Qualifying starts: Saturday 10th March, 3pm
Racing starts: Saturday 10th March, 5pm
Finals start: Saturday 10th March, 7pm
We'll be there from around 2pm so look out for the Airdrop branded EZ-up near the bottom of the course, just behind The Howard pub. In case you're wondering where to find it, Howard Street is right in Sheffield city centre. There's tonnes of parking nearby and it's a one-minute walk from the station.
Last Year's Race
This is only the second time the Howard Street Dual has run. Last year's race was a bit of an unknown quantity but thanks to some incredible organisation from This Is Sheffield, strong support from the council and local brands, a stacked field and a sick course, the whole thing was awesome. And did we mention Airdrop rider Brett Penfold won, beating the likes of Steve Peat, Sam Dale and Ben Moore? We had no idea what to expect and Airdrop was still in it's early days, but we thought we'd make the most of it so we built Brett a one-off custom dual bike:
The results kinda speak for themselves but it was Brett that won it, not the bike. And with greasy conditions, a tough track and some serious competition, anything can happen. That's probably the best thing about the dual format - it makes for amazing racing.
Check out last year's race highlight video. This year we'll be racing on a floodlight track after dark, just to make things that bit more interesting. Since it was such a popular event last time out, this year's race will be live streamed on YouTube.
This Year's Race
We had such a good time last year, we had to come back for more. The first Howard Street Dual was Airdrop's first proper outing at a race, so we pitched up with a dodgy tent, some beers and a couple of bikes and pretty much hoped for the best. We just wanted to enjoy it. I don't think we really anticipated how many people would turn up, how good the racing was going to be and if we had, maybe we'd have bottled it! I say we, but actually it was just me with a couple of mates to help. But in the end it was such a good day. Brett just kept winning through the rounds, we had tonnes of interest from the crowds and a few Airdrop customers turned up for a chat.
We're putting a bit more effort in this year and we've invested in a proper branded EZ-up shelter. We'll have the dual bike of course, which has had some modifications (see below) and a few demo bikes to show. Plus we're also planning to bring something new along that you won't have seen before... so if you want a sneak preview of what we've been developing in the last year, you'd better get down to Howard Street.