Visible from nearly every point of Sheffield, the Park Hill estate was known for its brutalist tower blocks. The past few decades have saw it fall into disrepair and currently finds itself in the middle of a massive regeneration project. Since 2013, crumbling flats have given way to affordable modern apartments and student housing.
The estate came to bike racing organiser Adam Simmonite’s attention and, as a result, it is now home to the Sheffield Urban CX series. This July, the cyclocross event marked its second year in the brutalist playground.
As the name suggests, the series takes an alternative approach to cyclocross. The aim, as organiser Adam puts it, is “to bring urban racing into the heart of the city’s areas that are experiencing regeneration and a resurgence of community.” Along with an underlying theme of heritage, the Urban CX series uses its unique backdrop to provide a visually stunning race – for both riders and spectators – shining a new light on the streets that people walk and see on a daily basis.
When he convinced authorities to let him turn Park Hill’s cobbled streets, hill climbs and hidden alleys into a racing playground in 2015, nobody quite realised what a perfect location it was. “The area has this underlying heritage, and I’m a mad keen cyclist, so fusing the two together was brilliant. It’s a little bit unique and being the Outdoor City, we’re all about doing things a little bit differently.”
Local residents have seen benefits from the race, too. “We funded a cycle workstation and cleaning facilities in the residents’ cycle storage area last year,” says Adam, who hires many volunteers from the area. “Getting the local community involved is always at the forefront of these events, and Park Hill residents have been great backers of the event with both marshalling and racing.”
“This was my first one in Park Hill but I’ve done the Kelham Island race [the first race of the Sheffield Urban CX series] twice and really enjoyed it. But this is the first one I’ve done on a bike with gears, as up until now I’d just been racing on a single-speed. I enjoy how it goes through the new to the old, I really like that, it’s kind of like weaving in and out of different eras. It’s also one of the friendliest races I’ve ever been to!”
Register your interest for taking part in the Sheffield Urban CX series here