Spending your afternoon pedalling as fast as you can up a mile long hill which at points is steeper than Conduit Road, in temperatures as low as five degrees and clad in nothing but lycras may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea. Yet, this was what eleven riders of the University of Sheffield Cycling Club proceeded to do last Saturday for the BUCS Hill Climb competition.
The course began low down in the valley of Curbar Gap, only ten miles out of Sheffield. The start line was positioned on a narrow road cloaked in trees that immediately rose out of sight up the hill. The ascent continued rising steeper and steeper, winding around hairpins as the road neared the summit. Fortunately the riders were spurred up by the fiery support of UOSCC old boys who ran alongside the weary competitors screaming them on with a crescendo of noise for the final metres. Particularly strong encouragement came from Jerome Jacobs, Chris Davey (sporting some horrific lycra), Dave Camus, Michael Caley, Michael Macdonald and John Inman who remained throughout the day despite the bitter weather.
The day began at 11.30am for the women of UOSCC, warming up on the turbo trainers at the bottom of the hill before they were called up to the start line to set off at minute intervals. Clara Sandelind was the first to step up to the competition, bursting out of the saddle as she powered out of sight up the hill. Nicky Shaw followed her up twenty minutes later, giving the mile long uphill time trial the best of her efforts. Liz Stedman completed the line-up of Sheffield women, and pushed through the pain barrier to make her way up. The three finished well, and finished 16th, 21st and 35th respectively.
After 1.00pm it was the turn of the boys to tackle the challenge of Curbar Gap. Zach Smith, Rob Ricketts, Andy Myers, Ross Phelps, Joe Drane, Chris Dredge, Andy Nichols and finally Tom Stewart, drove themselves and their bikes up the tough course. The supporters were unable to keep up with the riders as they pushed their legs to the limit, and sometimes beyond. Rob Ricketts, the road captain, left nothing left on the road, falling into the grass bank as he crossed the finish line. An exhausted Andy Nichols said at the top that he’d ‘felt better’ and Chris Dredge merely mumbled ‘I don’t like that climb’. But, despite the pain that they went through, swift times from Stewart, Nichols and Dredge who finished in 2nd, 4th and 26th, meant that the collective time of Sheffield’s top three was just eighteen minutes and five seconds. This phenomenal effort placed Sheffield in first place for the men’s team competition, beating universities from across the country.
This marks a strong start to the season for the cycling club, who will be competing in BUCS Cyclocross and Road Race championships later in the academic year. They will also be in charity action in the coming months with members of the club racing Baby Bummit to Brighton on November 10.
By Richard Simpson