Cambridge University Cycling Club
We cater for all University members, providing access to all cycling disciplines from beginners to elite athletes.
As well as competing in BUCS races, we regularly organise social and touring rides which allow beginners to improve their fitness and to discover the countryside around Cambridge and beyond.
News about training, races, and results will be posted here. Check out our calendar of upcoming events on 'Training & Events'.
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This past weekend Tim Welsh was representing Cambridge University Cycling Club in the National 24 hour TT championships put on by the Mersey Roads cycling club. It was set to be an absolute scorcher, with the Met Office warning that it could be the hottest weekend of the year so far with no clouds and high humidity. Undeterred, Tim took to the start line along with 63 other competitors (11 out of the original 75 started chose not to even start the day). The course for the 24hrs was quite complicated, to ensure that riders were on different routes that were safer for different parts of the day and to make things more simple for the timekeepers at the finish. The majority of the course centred around the Prees Heath roundabout which was part of the main day circuit and the night circuit. After his start time at 13:26, Tim started the leg of the race to get to the main circuits (which of course required climbing directly uphill for the first 10 miles).
Within 15 minutes of the start, tragedy struck. Tim hit a pothole and the clamp on his right aero bar (clip-ons on his road bike) entirely snapped. With the aerobar now dangling from his handlebars it took a few moments to gather his thoughts. Luckily he had packed some gaffa tape, so he phoned his support crew who gave him hand ups of strips of gaffa tape which he used the wrap the bars together. Somehow, he managed to get the setup reasonably stable and carried on with gaffa taped bars for the first 7 hours until he took his first stop and had the bars and mount cable-tied more solidly.
Despite the bumpy start, Tim was getting on very well. The heat was getting to everyone, with loads of people (including multiple previous champions) deciding to pull out within the first day section. Tim however, was doing great. His support crew – Julia, Alex, and Steve – did everything they could to keep him fed and cool, handing up bottles full of electrolytes and sugar every 18 miles and ice packs to put down his skinsuit. His heart rate was skyrocketing the first 6 hours in the heat, but he felt good and carried on – managing to cover the first 112.45 miles in 5th place with a speed of 22.49mph.
After the first 112.45 miles on relatively busy A roads, the race moved onto the more relaxed Quina Brook circuit, which featured a bit more rolling terrain and even some nice little lanes through some local farms. Tim fared well on this section of the course, fuelling often with rice cakes and energy bars, and even managed to creep up into 3rd place overall before moving onto the night section.
Running a race through the night is a difficult task, and it requires a course that is reasonably smooth but also had little traffic. The night section for this race was a slightly mixed bag for Tim. He of course had no problem in the dark, probably due to his countless audax rides he has done through the night in much worse conditions on much smaller roads, but there were certainly more lorries than would have been desirable. That being said, Tim was still rolling well – covering the first dark 50 night miles in 2:15 (22.2mph). Things slowed a little bit from there, but never significantly. Around 2 am, Tim’s stomach started to tense up a bit – maybe due to the rapid ingestion of caffeine pills chased with an energy drink and antacids, or maybe due to not having enough solid food in the early hours of the morning – but this caused him to take a 35 minute stop to involuntarily empty the contents of his stomach and try to collect himself and recover. Being a stubborn person, Tim carried on for the remaining 3 hours on the night circuit, albeit at a slightly slower pace.
Around 7 am, Tim was one of the last riders to be moved back onto the Quina Brook circuit, where the first lap he still was moving relatively slow (by his self-imposed standards). After one lap around Quina, he took another short break to get some more solid food in, cover his legs in deep heat, and swap the clear visor for the sun visor on his aero helmet. After that break, things started to perk up. Tim started picking up the pace again and was looking a lot better than he was at 3 am. After completing 5 more laps of Quina, Tim was one of the first riders to move towards to finish circuit near Wrexham.
This was Tim’s first time ever riding in Wales, something he hoped to have done already in the 3 years he’s been in the UK, but nevertheless, at least this was a notable first ride to do in Wales. The race crossed into Wales on the A525, and of course, as soon as the “Croeso i Gymru” sign appeared the roads turned into a vertical wall (or so it felt). The rest of the commute over to the finish circuit was equally hilly and draining, or maybe it was just the previous 21hrs and 420+ miles in the legs. After the transit over, Tim made it onto the finishing circuit in 6th place with ~430 miles covered in the first 21:20.
The finishing circuit was an 8.18 mile lap around the lovely Wrexham Industrial Estate, with 4 timekeepers spaced out around the circuit to mark riders once they finish their 24 hours. Something obviously ticked for Tim in the final 2.5 hours, because all the tiredness and soreness seemed to drop away and he went full gas and even managed to consistently get negative splits across the 7 finishing laps he completed! Because of the shorter circuit, it also meant there were more supporters dotted out around the lap, and they were clearly excited by the speed Tim was moving as it seemed like pretty much every group of people screamed at him as he passed. In the last 3 hours, Tim didn’t manage to eat any solid food, but the carb drinks, countless gels, and most importantly the yells of support pushed him on.
Going into the last hour, Tim was determined to squeeze out every last bit of energy he could and was out of the saddle sprinting up every climb, and tucking into his most aero position to hit up to 30mph on the straight and flat sections. The final lap was his fastest one of all, averaging over 23.5mph – not bad for the end of a 24-hour ride!
In the end, Tim eked out 487.70 miles, securing him 4th place in the nation (3rd male). His original goal was to beat the Cambridge University record of 442.66 miles, and he absolutely smashed it. For his first TT over 100 miles, Tim and all of us at CUCC are pretty pleased with the result – especially on such a hot day where only 37 of the original 64 finished. Also a massive thank you has to go out to Julia, Alex, and Steve who were an absolutely stellar support team, they did everything they could to keep the pedals turning for Tim and it wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Tim is recovering and as always is already scheming for his next massive ride (although maybe it’ll be at a more relaxed pace). Onwards!
After another long hiatus from racing, on Sunday 18th April, we were finally back in action as hosts for this year's BUCS 25. Sadly, with Oxford unable to compete this year, it wasn't to be the Varsity match – but with a full start sheet of 120 riders, including plenty of 'hitters' desperate to get some early season racing under their belt, there was still plenty up for grabs.
The club had a strong squad out with over 20 members pinning on numbers, and plenty racing in their first ‘open’. After a long winter of training that had seen many new members flogging themselves in the weekly team time trials on Zwift, it was exciting to see how many would go – especially having lost a number of racing stalwarts in the last couple of years.
With sunny conditions on the local E33/25 course, fast times were expected, and so it proved: the days when a 52 or a sub-hour ride could win the men’s and women’s competitions respectively are now long gone!
With Jack Kellam’s Citroën parked up on a grassy verge for a socially-distanced basecamp, our early riders made their way over to the race course, ready to swap out wheels, pin on numbers and warm up for their efforts. Ottoline Martin (1:16:16, 36th) was first rider off, followed by Anne-Marie Bowring (1:09:29, 29th), Clare Jackson and Zoe Burrell also in the women’s field. With the latter two having only been on their new TT bikes for under a week, their eventual finishing times of 1:06:29 (Clare, 23rd) and 1:04:41 (Zoe, 19th) were super impressive, and a sign of their really exciting potential.
Anna Harrison (1:02:46, 15th) and Rebekah Nash (1:03:11, 16th) followed shortly after, putting in super rides to help support one of our strongest all-round performances in the women’s field for a few seasons. This was capped by Elspeth Grace, whose transformation from cyclo-crosser to top-tier tester now appears all but complete. With a time of 1:00:54 that would have readily netted a podium in years recently past, Elspeth finished 8th in a very strong field – keep an eye out at national events later this year.
The final podium saw Francesca Hall (Loughborough) take the win with a flying 56:35, followed by Lucy Gadd (Southampton) in 58:44, and Tamsin Miller (Exeter) in 59:44.
In the men’s event, first Cambridge rider off was Joris Witstok on his lovely Cervélo/Spinergy road bike TT set-up, who showed that #JorisWatts on Zwift translated effectively into reality, flying round to finish 40th in a 57:19. Tom Hale followed, starting early so he could hand over his TT bike to his UCL-based brother. In his first proper 25, Tom smashed a 55:30 that would place him 26th and as 3rd Cambridge rider overall.
George Spooner then headed out on his road bike, gurning round Botty to a very fast 55:52. One of the rides of the day, though, goes to Joe Adlam-Cook who – undeterred by a last minute snapped rear cable – rode a bodged, 1x single speed set-up for 25 miles, still finishing with a 1:01:47.
The two Sams – Massey and Gerrard – were also riding their first opens, and finished next to each other in the final standings, the latter (57:52, 49th) narrowly squeezing out the former (58:05, 50th). The triathletes followed, with Fabio Albertani finding a space on the start sheet to ride a creditable 58:17, before Luke McCarron put in a solid ride of 57:51. Our audax and ultra-distance specialist Tim Welsh was up next, and turned up the intensity for a very strong 57:24 (42nd) on a road bike and tri-bars set-up.
We were then into the squeaky end of the startsheet. Despite a healthy dose of last minute stress – it wouldn’t be CUCC at BUCS without it – a rapid wheel and cassette swap saw Jack Brown make his start time. Clearly unfatigued from racing a 25 on the same course the day before, and claiming not to have done an interval session in 18 months, Jack stormed to a 52:19 that placed him 8th (and a time that would have at least secured a podium in years past).
Jack Kellam and Toby Antippas followed with a 55:40 and 1:03:17 respectively, but it was Euan Tebbutt on his new P5 super bike that put in the star performance with 54:11 that saw him finish 19th.
Having stacked the podium in 2019, the men’s squad couldn’t quite repeat the feat two years later. The win was taken by George Peden (Leeds) with a 50:34, with Frederik Scheske (Exeter) and Sebastian Garry (Nottingham) coming 2nd and 3rd with 50:56 and 51:09 respectively. The top 7 all finished with times that would have comfortably won the event in previous years, showing quite how high the standard has risen in UK time trialling over the last few years.
Although the club weren’t quite able to match the results that we’ve become accustomed to in BUCS events over recent years, it was hard to come away with anything other than massive encouragement from the strength and breadth of new talent in the club, many of whom (including plenty who were unlucky to not get starts) are certainly going to be up in the sharp end of results sheets in the months and years to come.
A final, but incredibly important thanks go to Events Secretary James Quigley for putting on the event in really difficult circumstances, as well as everyone who helped out in marshalling and timekeeping: James’ dad, and Elspeth’s parents in particular! It was clear how grateful other universities were that we’d provided the opportunity for racing to return, and at quite how smoothly the day went by.
With Varsity still to come at a later date this year, and the season only just getting underway, keep your eyes peeled for CUCC skinsuits at time trials around the country!
(Image credit: Kane Smith and CUCC's very own Nordin Ćatić)
Over Lent Term, unable to take part in group rides, CUCC has instead been hard at work producing some lovely Strava art! It’s been great to see all these pieces and we’re very much looking forward to being able to ride together again next term.