After missing last year’s event in Stirling (lovely spot, a very long way from Cambridge), CUCC were back with a strong presence in 2017. The race was held on October 28th on Pea Royd Lane in Stocksbridge near Sheffield, a steep sub-3 minute climb that was used (in a 400m longer format) for the 2014 Nationals. The women were first up, with President Jess Atkinson coming in 14th and Carrie Bedingfield following in 17th in a competitive field. Felix Barker (8th), Seb Dickson (13th) and Rob Walker (17th) made up the Cambridge men’s team who placed second on the day, while Tom Simpson had their backs in 18th. Toby Cowell was 36th, Luke Fisher 59th, fresher Jack Brown managed 70th despite having his start botched and Seán Irving was 83rd. Full results can be found below.
The Women’s Race
The women’s race started at 10am, so Jess and Lottie chose to drive up to York on the Friday night rather than have a 5am start and 3 hour drive pre-race on the Saturday. A course recce on the Saturday morning was rather eye-opening as it had a series of short, steep climbs ramping up to 18% at points. This was to be Lottie’s second ever road race (the first being BUCS RR in 2015), but Jess has a lot of road race experience spanning seven years and this was one of the hardest courses she’d seen. The plan was to stick in the bunch as long as possible and make a call at the end if they were still at the head of the race.
On the first lap (of four), the three strongest riders broke away on one of the climbs and were never to be see again. It was then a matter of survival as the bunch gradually whittled down over the next few laps. Jess wasn’t feeling on top form throughout the race, however Lottie was riding extremely well – the short steep climbs were rather similar to what she is used to at home in Cornwall. They were both in the chasing bunch of 13 women as they came into the final, and were looking to be two of the strongest left. Jess was really well positioned going into the final 500m, which headed up a 5-6% ramp into the village of Terrington. Like the Renshaw-Cavendish days of old, Lottie was in prime position on Jess’ wheel when she hit the front with about 200m to go. Lottie came flying over the top with about 100m to go and took the bunch sprint by over three bike lengths! Jess just got pipped on the line by a rider from Bristol, which meant Lottie finished 4th and Jess 6th overall. This was a truly fantastic result for them both, and especially for Lottie considering her inexperience, so it made the journey all the way up to York well worth it!
We’d like to say thank you to TRIBE for fuelling us for the BUCS Road Race this year #fuelledbytribe
The Men’s Race
After a drive and a train ride to York, a quick drive around the second half of the course showed our Fenland perspective had lead us to underestimate the difficulty of the course from the Strava profile, with a particularly viscous ~90 second effort up the 20% Bulmer Bank likely to prove the decisive feature. Add to that the fact that it was the first ever road race for Hal Bradbury (in at the deep end with a Nat B!) and first mass start race of the season for both John Mulvey and John Grenfell-Shaw meant we had to revise our expectations downwards from the recent TT success. The mixed ability nature of the field showed with a few crashes in the first few laps, which were also rather slow since with only 2 riders per institution (John G-S having got a place as a reserve) nobody was willing to set the pace on the front. Nevertheless, the bunch was whittled down on the climbs each lap as riders got spat off the back when the pace was on in a highly attractional race in which only about 20 riders finished from a field of 80. John G-S was dropped after 50km, and Hal was looking very comfortable until losing contact on the second last lap: a steep learning experience for a race of this length on a course that didn’t suit him. John Mulvey was last Cambridge rider standing, rolling in with what was left of the bunch after not having had the legs to go with the decisive move over the climb on the last lap.
The Men’s Race
First up on the day were the Men’s B team, hot off the disappointment of BUCS ruling them ineligible to receive a (silver) medal at either the BUCS 10 or BUCS 25. Team time trialling is a difficult discipline at the best of times, but the lumpy course near bath provides a few extra challenges with some tight corners and puncture-inducing potholes thrown in for good measure. Riders Ali Golby, Oli Mytton and Rob Walker had got in a small amount of practice together beforehand, which paid off with a level headed and well controlled ride.
The Men’s A team were definite pre-race favourites with all three of Hal Bradbury, Seb Dickson and John Mulvey having placed within the top 4 individually and taken team gold and the BUCS 10 and 25. Illness during the week before meant their last ‘TTT’ ride together had been in this event the previous year. Unfortunately this showed somewhat in their slightly disjointed ride, with further delays from a short trip off course by one rider and an altercation with a van through the narrow village roads – thankfully with no serious damage done.
Back at the HQ, Cambridge B had placed second with a time of 50.06, just 3 seconds ahead of Warwick in 3rd place. Cambridge A had narrowly escaped with the win in 49.33. A great set of results again, but also much left to be improved upon for next year.
The Women’s Race
After a series of strong performances in the BUCS individual time trials, the women’s A team, composed of Jess Atkinson, Lottie Mallin Martin and Joy Lisney, were hopeful going into the TTT. The one planned practice ride in the preceding week was called off due to a series of hail showers, so the race was to be the first time that they would ride together in formation. Unfortunately, Joy took ill on the day and there was nothing to be done except to get around the course in one piece, eventually finishing 6th with a time of 1.03.22. Despite this, they were only a minute behind the bronze medal ride, so perhaps they would have been contesting Gold if things had gone to plan, we’ll never know!
The women’s B team consisted of Emilie Lostis, Hannah Evans and Holly Knox, all of whom had never done a TTT before and so were nervous but excited beforehand. They did, however, manage to fit in a practice run down the Busway on the day before the race with women’s captain, Jess, so they were as prepped as they could be. During the race, they worked really well together as a team to come home in a time of 1.12.21, which earned them 12th place. Considering that last year there was no women’s team entered (due to lack of ladies riding and racing), it was really impressive to see two women’s teams entered and it bodes well for next year as they will no doubt go from strength to strength.
Saturday marked the 2nd of the BUCS Cycling Championships, this one over a much longer distance of
25 miles. Although a similar style of event, 25 miles is a markedly different distance to race over than 10, requiring a much greater degree of self control and pacing, and having much more chance of things going wrong. It also incorporated the 70th edition of the Varsity match with Oxford.
Up for the honours were 12 men- 5 were returning from last year (Including all 3 of the Half Blues), and of the 7 new riders, 5 were freshers. With the fastest three from Cambridge earning Half Blues (and the opportunity to try for the discretionary Full at the National Championships later in the year), competition was almost more fierce between the Cambridge riders than with the other Universities! Although we were feeling pretty strong and were definitely the favourites after a dominant performance in the shorter 10 Mile Championships, a lot can go wrong in 25 miles.
Fresher Luke Fisher (Tit Hall) was the first to start in the whole competition- a somewhat unknown quantity having been absent from Cuppers, but he came through to take nearly 10 minutes off his PB, a very impressive feat. This laid down a good marker, so much so that it ended up being good enough for 12th, just 14 seconds outside of the top 10. Whilst Luke was riding, former CUCC President and BUCS Champion Ed Bradbury dropped by to support his brother, and later on the old Senior Treasurer of the club came along too to cheer us on!
Early on the 2nd April, 11 intrepid cyclists gathered as CUCC teamed up with Cambridge University Triathlon Club on a voyage to the boat races. Proceedings kicked off with a classic jaunt up chapel hill, perfect to wake us up on our way out of Cambridge. After a mere few miles, most of us realised it was considerably sunnier than we had expected… cue a major kit change for most! Off with the jackets and base layers, on with the sunglasses!
The sun stayed with us as we made our way South, covering the slightly more undulating terrain of Hertfordshire. Having covered roughly two thirds of our distance, we reached St Albans. We found ‘The Mermaid’, where half the group settled down for a pub lunch, pints and all, whilst a second group sought out the more traditional cycling staple: coffee and cake!
Having refuelled and regrouped, we jumped back on the bikes with London firmly in our sights. Before long, we passed the M25 and our ride began to change. Narrow winding roads became a single straight busy road which would take us directly into the centre of London. Progress was marred by traffic light after traffic light. Despite attempting to stick together, Matt and Harshal were lost to what we would later find out was a double puncture.
Finally coming to the end of this seemingly endless road, the Marble Arch appeared before us. A combination of confusing Garmin directions and lack of London knowledge led to much guesswork through the capital, but the views were not compromised. Thinking we were on the mall, some of us initiated a sprint, reminiscent of the final stages of the London 2012 Olympic road race, only to realise this was not in fact the mall, but an adjacent road. Despite this, we soon found our way to Buckingham Palace where we joined the many tourists, taking some all-important ride photos!
After a quick stop at the palace, the ride continued over Westminster bridge before we split off to find various friends at the Putney and Hammersmith bridges. We were greeted by an awesome atmosphere on a beautiful day for the boat races! Huge respect goes to all who competed in the races with particular congratulations in order for both Cambridge women’s boats!
Although I can’t speak for the rest of the group, the journey home came with its own issues, attempting to carry a road bike on the underground whilst others confused my Cambridge cycling shorts for a rowing overall, thinking I had just come from the river.
In all, a great day’s cycling covering 70miles on what couldn’t have been a nicer day. Thanks to all who came, we look forward to cycling with you on touring rides in the future!
Back in February six cyclists met at Brookside on a Saturday, at the normal time. This could have been mistaken for any regular old ride, but no. Not that day. That was the start of the much anticipated CUCC Touring ride to Oxford!
We set off a shade after 9:30, and it was clear from the start that there was going to be a slight headwind all day, as if cycling the 130km on its own wasn’t enough… but we pushed through, setting a decent pace, and the first 30 miles flew by. Rob got a puncture soon after, and whilst this was being fixed, Emilie took out some peanut butter filled dates and offered them around, which means it’s time for the return of my food blogging; so strap in boys & girls because here it comes:
With the appearance of, well, dates with peanut butter smushed in, I was not convinced at first. But I was wrong. Who knew such a simple combination could be so good?! Would recommend, even just for the insane amount of calories in them: 10/10. Food blogging over.
Anyway, we were back and away in no time.
Shortly after, we stopped in Woburn and settled in to a nice café for some lunch. After figuring out there was a button on the table to call over the waiter (wtf), we eventually got served. Back out on the road again, we now had less than half the distance left, with the sun shining nicely over head, we were well on our way to the Other Place.Continue reading
On Saturday the 9th April it was the BUCS 10 Mile Time Trial Championships, held just outside Oxford. The format of the racing, a time trial, sees each competitor try and lay down the fastest time they can around the 10 mile course. On top of this, the Team medals would be awarded on the combined times of the fastest 3 from each University.
In the Men’s Competition 48 Universities were represented and 7 Cambridge riders qualified – fewer than the year before. The Women had 4 qualify for their event, but bad luck (and shoulder dislocations!) lead to just 2 taking the start. With only one rider seeded, both men and women were regarded as outsiders for the titles- one person from a Scottish University even forecasting that Cambridge ‘would go off a bit of a cliff’ this year and stood no chance- laying down a bit of a challenge!
With one rider put off every minute it would be 3 hours before all the times were in, making for an anxious wait to see how riders compared. Soon, however, it began to show that the Cambridge Men were doing pretty well! The fastest time crawled slowly downwards throughout the course of the afternoon, until it came to a halt with Cambridge’s Oliver Mytton setting a new fastest time of 20:23 with 110 people still to go. This ended up standing unchallenged for over half an hour- despite some seeded people coming and going, the person coming closest was Fresher Ali Golby, 9 seconds back in his first showing for Cambridge.Continue reading
As Lent term drew to a close, 14 intrepid CUCC adventurers wobbled onto to the boards at Lee Valley Velodrome in London, many for the their first time. After a seamless train journey, we arrived in plenty of time to watch the riders in the session before us riding around the track, and to check out the bankings which reach an impressive 42 degrees!
Now it was time to don the lycra and walk down the Corridor of Champions to collect our noble steeds, the hire bikes. We also had to restrain Tom and Arnav from jumping onto the mini pump-track that was set up in the track centre.
Whilst Arnav, Tom and Jess (who have ridden track before) had a great time diving up and down the track and generally messing around, the nine beginners had a pep-talk from our lovely coach, Ricky. After a bit of time rolling around the Côte D’Azur to get used the to fixed gears, they were all up on to the boars and within half an hour, everyone was riding up around the blue line (half way up the track)!
It is almost inevitable when riding on the track for the first time that you will momentarily forget to pedal, but of course the gear will keep going and so you’ll get thrown forward. If you’re unlucky this will result in a trip over the handlebars, otherwise you just get a small heart-stopping moment which is enough to stop you from doing the same ever again. Thankfully no-one took a trip over the handlebars in this session, however Rob came closest with his rear wheel hopping a good half-metre – kudos for holding that one up Rob!
After some through-and-off drills that inevitably got gradually faster and faster, we were split into three teams to end with a small team-pursuit competition. The race was eight laps and the time was taken from the last person to cross the line. Team One, comprising Tom, Luke, Matt and Rachel, came third. Team Three, comprising Rob, Ben, John and Jess came second, and the clear winners were Team Two, comprising Holly, Becca, Arnav, Toby and Johnny.
All in all, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and are all keen to go back for more – even those who said “it’s just going round in circles, innit” (most notably, a certain Yorkshireman).
CUCC’s next trip to Lee Valley will be at the end of the Easter term for those that are gunning for BUCS Track. Until then, don’t forget to pedal!
On Thursday 9th March, Sophie Thornhill MBE very kindly made the long trek down to Cambridge from her home and British Cycling base in Manchester. After a series of train delays, Sophie arrived at Churchill at 7.30pm on the dot and so jumped straight on stage with CUCC Women’s Captain, Jess Atkinson, to talk to the gathering of cycling fans about her golden cycling career.Sophie Thornhill and Jess Atkinson
Sophie began by explaining how she was born with Oculocutaneous Albinism, a condition that affects pigment in her skin and eyes, and has caused her vision to be limited to about 8% of what the average person can see. She recounted stories of many a hairy moment when riding solo bikes as a child, before being given the opportunity to ride as a stoker (on the back) of a tandem in her early teens. Since then she hasn’t looked back, and now at the age of 21 she has one Paralympic Title, seven World Titles, two Commonwealth Titles, eleven National Titles and let’s not forget the MBE!Continue reading
For the past two years, I was aware of (at most) five other women that cycled in Cambridge. Coming into my third year, I reluctantly agreed to take on the role of women’s captain for fear of the role becoming redundant otherwise. Now, after eight weeks of term, I am extremely pleased to say that our women’s mailing list is 54 strong (and still growing), and I have led weekly rides of up to 14 women (yes, we beat the men). So, here’s how it all happened in under 8 weeks…Continue reading