Limited edition print by Saskia Palmer – Artist at The Corner Gallery

Sheffield gets creative for Tour De France in Yorkshire

Tomorrow marks the Grand Depart of ‘the world’s largest single sporting event’, the 2014 Tour de France, which departs from Leeds Town Hall on Saturday and enters Sheffield from York on Sunday.

With such an exciting weekend ahead of us, there are many ‘bike-related’ events happening in Yorkshire over the next few days and Sheffield’s independents are already in the spirit, with Tour de France decorations outside their shops and bike-related celebrations planned for the weekend.

Cycling cafe Amici Bici are hosting a Tour de France party on Saturday night with pizza, prosecco and peroni and artist Saskia Palmer is selling limited edition Tour de France prints at The Corner Gallery.

Theatre Delicatessen present Pedal Pusher at Furnace Park, a performance telling the true story of Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich’s battle to become champion of the Tour de France. And if you’d like to get out of the city, The Steel Stage in High Bradfield is holding a charity sportive ride and a Bradfield brewery beer festival with music and entertainment all weekend.

Making a bicycle from steel 

One event which caught the eye of Sheffield Unchained is being hosted by Sheffield Steel Peloton. A collaboration between independent businesses, charities, artists and makers from Sheffield, the team have been exploring the process of making a bicycle with a specially design head badge made from iron mined and forged into steel in Sheffield.

Between 12-4pm on Saturday, Sheffield Steel Peloton is hosting the finale event of a series of summer events celebrating cycling and Sheffield’s industrial steel heritage. There will be bike decoration workshops between 12-3pm and afterwards a cavalcade parade of decorated bikes from Barkers Pool into the centre of town.

Working as a team

Taking its inspiration from the meaning of ‘Peloton’ – cyclists working as a team to finish the ride – the project has brought together a team of artists, archaeologists, event organisers, scientists and filmmakers.

The team have spent the summer filming and exploring the process of making a bicycle from scratch and forging a bicycle head badge made from iron mined deep underground in Sheffield.

The idea for the project began as a collaboration between Harry Harrison, an artisan bike manufacturer from Field Cycles, and Mark Bull, a filmmaker from local production company, Four Beards. The pair approached Yorkshire Festival for funding to make a film about making a bike and have since teamed up with Regather, Sheffield’s Trading Co-op, artist Florence Blanchard and Sheffield Blacksmith Jessica Millwood amongst others.

When I asked Barney Harris, Experimental Archaeologist, how the team was chosen he said:

They were all friends and acquaintances, this is Sheffield after all!

‘Turning a bit of Sheffield into a bike’

Field Cycles, the independent business building the Sheffield Steel Peloton bicycle, is another collaboration between a maker, a painter, a graphic designer and an engineer, who have a common pursuit for a hand built bicycle. Field Cycles claims that they are proud to put the statement ‘Handmade in Sheffield’ on their bikes:

We are inspired by the pioneering industrial heritage and tradition of our Steel City, in particular the expertise of small workshops and the individuals who shaped its evolving identity. We are determined that our products should perpetuate Sheffield’s innovative steel working legacy.

Harry Harrison of Field Cycles

Harry Harrison of Field Cycles

Barney, who helped find the iron ore for the head badge, said that they are using prehistoric techniques to smelt the iron ore sourced from underground in Sheffield:

Iron ore occurs naturally in the ground, we sourced some and then used a traditional bloomery furnace to smelt this into iron. We’re working with the university to incorporate the iron into a steel casting of the head badge.

A traditional clay bloomery furnace used to smelt the iron ore

A traditional clay bloomery furnace used to smelt the iron ore

The head badge, which was designed by artist Florence Blanchard, was then passed to blacksmith Jessica Millwood and then incorporated into the bike made by Field Cycles.

Harry from Field Cycles said:

The fact that it is all sourced and made within the city limits makes that piece of iron a really unique trophy of an event, that has all the narrative and the story and the shared experience smelted into the material.

Barney explained:

We thought that would be a good way to celebrate the Tour de France coming to Sheffield, by turning a bit of Sheffield into a bike.

Handmade in Sheffield head badge by Field Cycles

Handmade in Sheffield head badge by Field Cycles

You can watch the premiere of the Steel Peloton documentary on the outdoor screen in the Peace Gardens, on Saturday at various points throughout the day.

To find out more about Sheffield Steel Peloton and the event on Saturday go to: sheffieldsteelpeloton.com