Blake Street in Walkley is not only the steepest street in Sheffield (at 1 in 6) - it’s said to be one of the three steepest urban streets in England.
So why not ride up it as fast as you can on a bicycle?
“It’s about showing off the Outdoor City’s assets,” said Paul Sullivan of Sheffield Council, co-organiser (along with the Sheffrec Cycling Club) of the inaugural Blake Street Bash cycling hill climb on Saturday.
“The Magnificent Seven racers always come up Blake Street, and there’s always been the loudest noise from spectators for any of the seven climbs, because the residents here are very supportive. So we decided to hold an evening event here later in the year.”
Nearly 200 people came out to support the hill climbers, who competed in a knockout tournament after logging their individual best qualifying times. Thirty-four riders aged from nine upwards took part in the event, hailing from Spain, Mexico, Whitby “and even Rotherham,” said Marc Etches from Sheffrec. Eventual winner Calum Brown had to scale the 150 metre climb seven times to claim victory.
“We wanted to put on a good event for riders so word will spread for next year,” Marc said. “Cyclists love hills, and seeing how fast these riders get up Blake Street is about inspiring people.”
“We have a lot of people with young families around here, so it’s really nice to have a community event like this,” said Miles Dimbleby of the Blake Hotel at the top of the hill.
In future events, organisers hope the Blake Street Bash may include categories for e-bikes, folding bikes, cargo bikes and more.
Blake Street’s reputation has led to numerous running and riding challenges over the years, and locals say there was even a race for Blake Hotel regulars carrying a beer barrel up the hill.
This year the city’s Love to Ride team became the first people to cycle a beer barrel up Blake Street on a cargo bike. “It’s an e-bike, but it was still really hard work,” said Rosie Frazer of Love to Ride.
“It just shows what’s possible on a bicycle,” said Paul Sullivan.