Extraordinary Full Blue awarded to Ffion James

Congratulations to Ffion James (Girton) who has been awarded an extraordinary Full Blue for her magnificent racing efforts whilst at Cambridge. 

Alongside her degree in Natural Sciences, whilst at Cambridge Ffion has represented Great Britain multiple times in cyclocross, including at prestigious World Cup events and the European Championships. In the 2019/20 season, Ffion’s most impressive results included winning the elite National Trophy series in cyclocross, as well as finishing 2nd in the U-23 category at the UK National Cross Country Championships, directly behind a multiple world champion. 

Whilst representing Cambridge, Ffion won MTB Varsity 2018 (by quite some margin) and led Girton to a huge win at 2019 Cuppers. She was also part of the team that took a magnificent bronze at the 2018 BUCS Team Time Trial championships, and placed 7th at the BUCS 10 Mile championships in 2019 (on a borrowed bike quite a few sizes too big!). 

Throughout her time in CUCC, Ffion has also given back a huge amount in her role on the committee, inspiring newcomers to race as the Women’s Captain in 2018/19 and being one half of the fantastic Social Secretary team in 2019/20.

Alas, this recognition of Ffion’s achievements in representing CUCC has come at the very end of her studies, but the club looks forward to following her undoubted success in all the years to come. 

Chapeau Ffion! 

 

Lent Term Racing Round-up

With the sun shining relentlessly outside and the roads beautifully dry and clear, CUCC should be celebrating another rampant BUCS campaign and the start of the fair weather race season. Instead, the boredom of being stuck at home has forced some people to insane measures including Everesting attempts, alpine passes on a TT bike – and worst of all – attempting to change a pressfit bottom bracket yourself. So in an attempt to distract from this madness, here’s a long-awaited roundup of CUCC’s racing activity from Lent term before it passes from living memory and into folklore.

 

Time Trialling

First up was the notorious Ely Hardriders TT, incorporating 25 miles of some of the “most beautiful” countryside the Fens have to offer. Those daft enough to insist on racing this early in the season, however, were spared by the weather gods, as Storm Ciara forced the event to be called off. Quite incredibly the weather still didn’t look as grim as it has done in recent years when its been run!

Next up was the North Road Hardriders just north of London, with an exciting course featuring several U-turns in the road just to keep it interesting. A great showing for CUCC saw Elspeth run away with the women’s event, whilst Rob, Jack B, John, and Jack K came home 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th in the mens’ classification. The three racing first-claim for CUCC – Rob, Jack K and Elspeth – also did well enough to see CUCC take home the team prize.

Elspeth at the start of her winning effort at North Road Hardriders

Then it was down to second-hand car dealer country for the Hainault Hilly 50km in Essex. Another great weekend for the light blues with Jack B in 2nd, Ali in 3rd (despite somehow puncturing in the car on the drive down) and Jack K 4th (including a meaty late start penalty for forgetting his rear light). Dave made his long-awaited bike racing debut, taking a 62-tooth 1x setup to an event with the word “Hilly” in the name, and Andy Salkeld got round with a power PB!

Jack K trying to make up for his late start at Hainault Hilly…

The last weekend of racing before the world went mad featured the West Suffolk Wheelers sporting 21 miler (which Jack won), and also our local 25 on the Lee Valley E1 course. CUCC fielded a strong 7-rider lineup including Euan, Dave, Dan, James Q, along with Ollie Moseley and Tom Bishop. Euan got a cheeky top 10 (5th) and CUCC took the team prize! Dave in particular was thrilled with his ride. 

Road racing

The road racing season got going nice and early with some incredibly grim and choppy crits at Hog Hill through Jan and Feb. These saw some CUCC members making their racing debuts, including Anne-Marie, Robbie, Ollie Fox, Alex Bartram and Sam Massey and who all put in some very strong rides! Further mentions go to Ffion and Craig who each won a 2/3/4, and a Will Weatherill-Ollie Fox 1-2 in a 4th cat race.

Next was the start of the actual road races, with the Crest CC road race just outside Cambridge. Very strong rides from Craig and Jack B (ably assisted by a cheeky first lap move from alumnus Toby Parnell) put them in the early break, and Craig stuck it out to take the win! Craig doubled this up a week later with a win at the BRRT Spring Classic, and also netted a phenomenal 2nd at the prestigious Betty Pharoah Nat B.

Finally before the curtains dropped was the Ike Saul memorial, with Jack B getting up the road with (not actually very) recent (any more) alumnus Felix Barker. Felix stuck it out to the finish where he was unfortunate to finish 4th in a 3-up sprint for the line (not a typo).

And that’s pretty much a wrap! Hopefully some more updates to come soon once we can start making the most of the increase in training volume that the current situation has allowed…

 

2020 Cuppers’ Round-up

A few weeks before the Coronavirus lockdown, CUCC held its annual Cuppers’ Time Trial on the 29th February, in what would turn out to be the last taste of racing for many in a long while. 

33 hardy souls braved the classically awful February weather, with some gale force winds making the outward leg to Newmarket great fun, but in turn making the return leg rather painful. As is standard on the slightly tricky turnaround (a roundabout with 5 exits), one rider somewhat inevitably took the wrong turning towards Six Mile Bottom, thankfully realising the mistake before getting to the A11.

Men’s winner Jack Brown suffering over the line in his “distinctive” new skinsuit…

Jesus College were the victors on the day, with a narrow margin of 2 points to second placed Emmanuel. Current Women’s Captain Elspeth (Girton) won the Women’s TT bike category in a time of 25:13, with Jess Godden (Emma) winning the road bike category with a 28:22.

Women’s winner Elspeth Grace, who also comfortably takes home the prize of the smallest CdA!

In the Men’s event, Jack Brown (Caius) successfully defended his 2019 title in a time of 20:35, with Rob Walker (Pembroke) coming a close 2nd in a 20:46 and Patrick Elwood (Magdalene) rounding out the podium with a 21:23. Craig Rogers (Fitz) continued his refusal to ride a TT bike but won the road bike category in a rapid 22:34. Fresher Henry Yates (Churchill) won the Town Bike category on his full suspension 29er, riding a 31:47. 

 

 

 

Women’s Results

PlacingNameTime
1Elspeth Grace25:13
2Hannah Roberts25:45
3Jessica Godden28:22
4Clare Gayer28:39
5Fiona Bunn29:52
6Anne-Marie Bowring31:29
7Ellie Taylor33:14

 

Men’s Results

PlacingNameTime  
1Jack Brown20:35
2Rob Walker20:46
3Patrick Elwood21:23
4Ali Golby21:45
5Craig Rogers22:34
6Jack Kellam22:39
7Euan Tebbutt23:19
8Dave Bell23:42
9Oliver Mosely23:56
10Ollie Fox 24:29

Extraordinary Half Blue for John Grenfell-Shaw

At this term’s Men’s Blues Committee meeting it was unanimously agreed to confer an extraordinary award of a Half Blue to John Grenfell-Shaw.

Those of you who were members of CUCC between the years of 2015 and 2018 will have known ‘Gren’, either as a remarkably keen and industrious novice in his first year; or maybe looked up to him as a capable and rapid older hand, ever willing to pass on his hard-earned expertise to those just starting out.

The Blues committee recognised his performances at many levels: at BUCS where he recorded several top 20s as well as a top 10; at Varsity where Oxford’s top finisher was a full two minutes behind him; and finally at National level time trial events.  

John’s obvious drive to do well and improve was matched with an unassuming modesty about what he achieved in the process, so hopefully this award will stand as a testament to his achievements, even if he wouldn’t trumpet them himself.  Sadly, as many of you will know, it must also stand as a memorial to John, who died whilst out in the Lake District in 2018, and so was never able to receive it himself.

He is memorialised by the Club’s annual ‘John Grenfell-Shaw Award’ for ‘Most Improved Cyclist’, which has been kindly donated by his family, but as much by his spirit of faultless help and advice to those who needed it, and who have since passed it on in turn to newer generations.

 

Alumni Dinner 2020

In early February, CUCC began what it hopes to be an annual tradition with our first ever Alumni Dinner. A handful of our current riders welcomed back former members to Jesus College for an evening of great food, stories and a small amount of wine! 

We were lucky to have Alumni dating all the way back to the ’70s join us, allowing a great spread of generations to realise that while some things may change across the years, CUCC will always share love for riding in the Fens, beating Oxf*rd and being considerable choppers on our bikes.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s dinner, where we’ll hopefully have even more Alumni along. It’ll be held at a similar time of year (likely to be the last weekend of January – to be confirmed shortly) but we’ll head to a different venue.

In keeping with the serious tone of the evening…

 

Training Camp 2020

CUCC President 2019-20 Alex Petter reports back from the club’s annual trip to the sunny roads of Spain…

In early January, 17 CUCC members escaped the English winter for an excellent training camp in the Costa Blanca, Spain. Rain, mud and cold were swapped for sunshine, shorts and smooth roads. The trip got off to a great start with no bike casualties mid-flight (unlike the previous 2 years), and we headed out for a sunny shakedown on the first afternoon. This set the tone for a brilliant 8 days of riding, with wall-to-wall sunshine for every mile we rode.

Miraculously, nobody crashed all camp, nobody got lost, and there were no major bike breakages. Smugly under the illusion that we were a well-functioning club rather than a bunch of choppers, we rode up mountains, down thrilling descents, along picturesque coast roads and to many great cafes. Countless tostadas and bocadillos were eaten, and an inordinate quantity of Haribos and muffins were smashed.

Famous climbs including the Col de Rates, Cumbre Del Sol and Vall d’Ebo were tackled, with CUCC’s faster members setting some seriously competitive times up them. The little-ring-only rest day brought some quality tunes, and a café stop that featured many a burger and beer. Despite all the merriment, the camp delivered a huge training hit that should help power CUCC to many impressive performances throughout the season. We returned home with heavy legs, topped-up tans, and some close friendships forged. We’re looking forward to next year!

Michaelmas Racing Round-Up

With a New Year – and a new racing season – arriving here in Cambridge, we’ve put together a belated look back at some of the stellar racing performances that club members put in during the last few months of 2019.

At the start of term, CUCC had riders competing in the tail end of the road racing season, while others swapped disciplines to test themselves against the clock in hill climb events and put on the knobbly tyres for the beginning of the cyclo-cross calendar.

Road Racing and Hill Climbs

On an eventful Sunday in mid-October, the first result of the day saw Rob Walker take a fine solo victory in a damp end-of-season Finsbury Park RR, ably supported by Jonny Bodey who claimed a respectful pack finish.

Meanwhile, just south of London, Jack Kellam and Craig Rogers were tackling the iconic Bec and Catford CC Hill Climbs – events in which the club has pedigree! After a successful road race season, and promising early hill climb results, all eyes were focused on Craig who was competing in a tough field.

Despite a sketchy descent down the hill to the start on his lightweight Chinese carbon rims, Craig surged up the steep slopes of York’s Hill to claim 3rdplace – going one better than the eminent Seb Dickson in the 2018 event. While buoyed by the fact the pre-race favourite Calum Brown also weighed a ‘hefty’ 75kg, a discrepancy of a few hundred watts in power output meant Jack could only finish 44th.

Over at White Lane, for Bec CC’s event in the afternoon, Craig produced an incredible performance that kept him in the hot seat until the last few competitors. It took the massive calves of the aforementioned Calum Brown to pip Craig by 1.3 seconds to the prize. Regardless, this was an amazing set of results from our mercurial hill-climber.

A few weeks later, BUCS Hill Climb saw CUCC take a strong squad, buoyed by Craig’s stunning string of results, to Mam Tor in the Peak District. On a bleak day of driving rain and freezing temperatures, a total of 16 riders from Cambridge ground their way up the mountain pass.

In the women’s event the featherweight Elspeth Grace was our highest finisher, placing 17thin a strong field. The trio, completed by of Lucy Harris and Melody Swiers, did well to finish 6thin the women’s team event – especially given their relative inexperience in the event.

Meanwhile, in the men’s event 13 reluctant Cambridge competitors tentatively left the warmth of the van to try and get some crucial BUCS points. In the end, Craig managed a good 7thplace, disappointed to see a rider from Oxf*rd take the overall honours. With George Spooner coming in 17th, and Rob 27th, we did enough for CUCC to take an honourable 3rdin the team prize.

 

BUCS Track

Another year, and after the BUCS Hill Climb, another plucky band of CUCC riders headed to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester to compete on the boards. As the eternal problem of Cambridge not having a velodrome continues for yet another year (perhaps this year might be the one however…) the squad of Jack Brown, George Spooner, Rob Walker and Craig Rogers entered with low expectations, the only goal to have a ‘good jolly’ whilst they were at it.

In the first event of the weekend, the 200m Flying Time Trial, George Spooner posted a quite rapid 12.079, especially considering he’d never done a proper flying lap before…

Next up came the IP qualification, where Jack led the way with a 4:45.245 across the 4km, good enough to qualify 10th, with Rob Walker coming in 5 seconds slower in a 4:50.452.

Both George and Rob were up in the Kilo, with hopes high after Rob’s rapid time last year. However, it was not to be, especially considering George had forgotten to tighten his handlebars after switching, which saw Jack running across the track centre like a frightened rabbit in an attempt to source a 4mm Alan key. Rob posted a 1:10.392, with George (and his tightened handlebars) coming home in a 1:11.556.

The next day brought the Team Pursuit (GS, JB, RW & CR), which remains CUCC’s only slight hope at a medal. After last year’s disappointment, the boys were raring to go, but knew of the challenge ahead of them. Considering the 3 hours of track time the squad had in the run up to the event, a very clean 3:25.790 over 3km was the result, only good enough to Qualify 8th, but also only 4 seconds off the minor final.

The Team Sprint was entered purely for ‘the banter’, coming in 14th, and about 4 seconds slower than the time George had put down on the BUCS entry form.

And in the final event of the weekend came a gripping show, with Jack in the Points race (his first ever real bunch race on the track…). The opening 10 minutes saw Jack up in 3rdplace, after having taken a lap and winning a sprint in the process. Collecting a few more minor points, he unfortunately missed a move which took a second lap, but managed to use his newfound tactical nous to win a sprint after parking it on the front on the bell lap, to allow the catch to happen. The toll of not really riding his bike all that much through Michaelmas began to become apparent, with even Jack’s dad remarking at how utterly gassed he looked. Narrowly missing out in the final sprint, Jack took 5thoverall, just a single place behind a few valuable BUCS points.

 

Cyclo-cross

Back in the great outdoors, and the 2019/20 Cyclo-cross season has arguably been one of CUCC’s most successful, seeing more members racing the discipline than ever, and a number bringing home some superb results, proving that Cambridge riders are capable of winning races that don’t involve aerobars.

Having started the Autumn with intent by winning the Three Peaks race up in Yorkshire, Ffion James has carried stellar form throughout a season that has seen her take the overall National Trophy leader’s jersey with a consistent string of top results.

Pick of these was a victory in the Elite Women at a home race in the sand dunes of Pembrey – one of a number of podium places she would eventually accrue over the course of the series. She was just as impressive over the channel in Belgium, putting in an impressive ride to finish in the middle of the field at the UCI World Cup in Namur, when up against dozens of world class athletes.

Such was Ffion’s form, there’s little space to detail all the victories and results she picked up at local races over the course of the winter too. A solid ride to finish 7that the National Championships in January capped off another great season.

Not to be overlooked though, is this year’s Women’s Captain Elspeth Grace, who’s also managed to pull off consistent performances in the mud. Alongside consistent top ten placings at regional races – and a 12thplace at the York round of the National Trophy – she claimed another great position in the National Championships, finishing in the top 25.

Will Weatherill also had a breakthrough season in the U23 Men, consistently placing in the top 10 overall of races, and winning his age category in the North of England regional championships. An absolutely massive result, though, saw Will come home in 24that the National Championships in January – an amazing performance in an increasingly strong domestic field. Alongside alumni Felix Barker, both also took their bikes over to Belgium, taking to the start line of Ambiancecross alongside Van der Poel, Iserbyt, Pidcock and other royalty!

With BUCS time trials and Varsity drawing ever nearer, CUCC will be taking much confidence from a Winter of strong performances across the board. The Other Place ought to be trembling.

CUCC Dominate at Three Peaks

There might not be many mountains to practice carrying your bike up in Cambridge, but Ffion James (Girton), Elspeth Grace (Girton) and William Weatherill (Homerton) all secured stunning results in this year’s edition of the iconic race. No wonder there’s no BUCS Cyclocross – we’d only sweep the board there too! Social Sec 2019/20 Ffion offers up the full story of last weekend…

On Sunday 15th September, three brave delegates from CUCC headed up to Yorkshire to take on the infamous Three Peaks, arguably the hardest cyclocross race in the world. It comprises 60km up and down 3 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales on a ‘cross bike: drop handlebars, survival bag and emergency whistle all compulsory… Who wouldn’t want to give it a go?!

Ffion on her way to smashing the U23 record time

Nothing can prepare a 3 peaks first-timer for the ascent of Simon Fell, the first summit of the route. The hill creeps up in front of you, getting steeper and more intimidating the closer you get to it. Crawling up a mountain side with 600 other crazy people really makes you question yourself. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. The descents are no less insane. Racing blind down a steep, rocky mountain with no suspension, drop handlebars and 50+ psi in your tyres is not to be recommended!

Smile or grimace?

Ffion James and Elspeth Grace nevertheless managed to make it around with both themselves and their bikes in one piece, placing 1st and 3rd respectively in the U23 Women’s category, with Ffion breaking the U23 record by an impressive 35 minutes. Relief was the predominant feeling for both riders as they crossed the finishing line, mixed with a bit of frustration for Ffion who only finished a minute behind the winner in a 3 hour 45 minute race. While she’s sure she’ll be back next year to wrap up some unfinished business, Elspeth is not quite so convinced, having said she only ‘thinks’ she enjoyed it!

Will mid hair-raising descent

Will Weatherill, with a little more experienced than Elspeth and Ffion, was competing in his third Three Peaks and aiming high. He was having an incredible ride, constantly moving up through the field, reaching 12th place by the top of Pen-y-Ghent, the final climb. The extremely fast but on-the-limit descending which had helped Will get into that position sadly came at a price, as he suffered a frustrating two punctures on the final descent. He still managed to hold on to a very impressive 17th place and 1st U23 rider, in an extremely strong field containing the likes of 12-time champion Rob Jebb and EF Education First World Tour pro Lachlan Morton.

What a day for CUCC, with three different riders on the podium at a prestigious event, that isn’t a time trial and includes hills! Bringing home this set of results is really quite special and shows how well-rounded and multi-talented the club is. Congratulations to all three of them!

Let’s see if we can convince a few more testers to take up the challenge in 2020…

Ffion and Elspeth taking 1st and 3rd U23 Women

Will stood on the top step of the Men’s U23 podium

 

CUCC Summer Racing Round-Up

Our riders might have been scattered around the country for the long vacation, but that hasn’t stopped CUCC bringing home a host of fantastic results over the summer months.

Back in late July, one half of the coming year’s social sec team – Ffion James – put in a strong performance on her mountain bike, finishing a fantastic 2nd place in the Women’s U23 race at the National XC Championships at Cannock Chase.

Craig ‘Mystery’ Rogers has been battling away at a load of Northern 2/3/4s, winning the Ian Mountain Memorial RR, finishing 2nd at the Cold Dark North RR and then also competing at the Harlech ‘Hell’ Climb, finishing 6th in a quality field up an especially grim climb (recently recategorised as the steepest in the world!) to show good form as hill climb season comes into view.

Craig Rogers (Fitz) winning the Ian Mountain Memorial RR. Cred. Kieran Metcalfe Photography

Lucas ‘The Bullet’ He has continued a season of great TT results, a particular highlight being the VC Baracchi 50 near Norwich, where he clocked a rapid 1:51:17 to bag a quality 2nd place. He then followed this up with another podium on the 25 mile variant of the same course a week later, finishing in 56:04.

When not trying to finish writing up his PhD thesis, John Mulvey has been casually winning the odd TT here and there, including the Victoria CC and Chronos RT 10s on the same day?!. The latter was won with a rapid 18:51 on the F2A/10 course just west of Cambridge.

Moving into August, aside from seeing his form slide away through a month of 30-minute crits in Crystal Palace Park, Website Secretary Jack Kellam took the club’s Zipp wheels all the way back home to South Wales for an average day out at the CTT Welsh 10-mile Championship near Abergavenny, finishing 15th for a 20:24. Faring far better, however was Women’s Captain Elspeth Grace who traded her standard ‘cross tyres for slicks, coming 5th in the Women’s field in the Victoria CC 10.2 on the Bank Holiday weekend.

Jack Brown (Caius) on his way to a new CUCC 25 record

General Secretary Jack Brown headed over to a dual carriageway near Derby for the rescheduled RTTC National 25 Championships after a summer comprised mainly of lugging touring kit up mountains and trolling the numerous (8!) Loughborough students he keeps beating in road races.

TT-position muscle memory proved strong, however, as Jack churned out the watts to break the club 25 record for the second time this year, posting a 48:09(!) on the A25/11, good enough for a top 10 finish (9th) on the day. Rumour has it he might get his skis out and head down to the R25/3h in South Wales in search of a 47′ next year.

All in all, its been another superb summer of racing across the board for the club with numerous great results and performances not covered here. With another intake of talented freshers just round the corner, things are looking good for BUCS 2019/20, with the season-opener hill climb up Mam Tor fast approaching at the end of October.

Rob and Seb get their full blues!

Rob Walker and Seb Dickson travelled down to near Bristol for the National Circuit Championships, with the aim of collecting a top 50 to accomplish their full blues.

With Rob having his end of term project just finished and Seb finally getting round to doing the whole finish a degree thing (‘both the most and least anticipated event of the year’) with finals, masters dissertation write up etc neither had the sharpest legs.

The course was the same used for the BUCS TTT – a technical and somewhat lumpy if scenic romp around the roads near Tomarton.  There was varying familiarity with the course – Seb from his 5 previous appearances in that event and Rob from a previous 2 (even if on the second appearance he got confused by a slight corner perniciously pretending to be a straight road and cycled off the side of it. See: BUCS TTT 2019). However, unlike the BUCS TTT  this turned out to be two laps  (40miles), a rather different proposition for the inherently lazy who like their bike races to be over quickly so they can get back to eating cake.

In the end, the very strong field on paper was hollowed out slightly by misfortune, with world tour pro Harry Tanfield having exceptionally poor luck to puncture cycling to the start, and even worse luck to do that next to Seb, whose cheery offer of an out of true 10 speed mavic aksium with a seized freehub was summarily disregarded by the Katusha Alpecin rider.

Rob set a time of 1:30:54 round the course, managing not to get foxed by mischievous ‘roads with slight changes of direction’ and this was good enough for 13th on the day, beating many impressive names, and easily clearing the barrier to converting his half blue from winning the varsity match for his maiden full blue.

Seb  could only find one sock and no overshoes or skinsuit having been too hungover packing the day before. He further thought he’d prove that testing your race nutrition strategy before hand is a good idea by not doing so; chugging his first gel in about 4 years then throwing it back up 10 miles later along with his breakfast, all over the skinsuit he had borrowed that morning. As such, there is not much photographic evidence of the assymetric vommity twit. Despite this, he did 1:27:24 and clung on for 7th, getting his final full blue to add to the previous 2 and a half.

It now just remains for John Mulvey to attempt his and they will get the full set!

Seb and Rob at the Circuit Champs