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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CUCC General Secretary 2021-22 Matt Bryan reports back from the club’s annual trip to the sunny roads of Spain…
After two long years, CUCC was once again able to return to Calpe for its annual training camp at the start of January. Situated on Spain’s stunningly beautiful Costa Blanca, the area is one of the most popular cycling destinations globally, and as a result attracts a huge number of riders, from professionals to Cambridgeshire-based choppers. Whilst the area is known for beachside resorts like Benidorm (and its unique culture), CUCC’s finest were there with strict goals in mind: get faster, eat a lot, have fun whilst doing it. We can confirm that at least two of the three were achieved.
The trip started very early in a dark and miserable England (or Amsterdam if you are CUCC’s resident European), but just a few hours later we reconvened in the bright and sunny baggage claim of Alicante airport. After sitting around for a good 20 minutes waiting for Zoe’s bike box to materialise despite it having already come off the conveyor belt long before we arrived, we made our way to the first cafe of the trip (even on holiday, CUCC has its priorities straight). Having re-energised and devoured the first bocadillo jamon of many, we were met by our very smiley transfer driver, who helped load our bikes and bags into the Green Machine. The Green Machine felt a very apt name for the retina-damaging lime-green Mercedes sprinter with a huge trailer that whisked us an hour down the coast to the villas.
Having settled into the two huge conjoined villas that would be our base for the week, and acquainted ourselves with the hire bikes, we headed out to the local supermercado whilst Joe, Tom, Hugo & Zoe continued to bodge their bikes together. For me, the foreign supermarket is the most enthralling part of any holiday; so familiar yet so alien. What is this vegetable? Can you buy sliced bread? How cheap is the alcohol? We promptly answered all these questions, but this is also probably why this trip to the shops took a good 90 minutes. With daylight fading at a welcome 6pm, we snuck out for a quick 45km with more climbing than the average rower does in their lifetime. The roads were smooth, drivers friendly, views immense – we had truly arrived in a cyclist’s paradise.
On our return, naturally, we did what any Brit would do in the depths of January; have a big old fashioned barbeque. Luckily we realised that Sam was vegetarian beforehand, so prepared him a delightfully solid veggie burger that more resembled a NHL-grade hockey puck than food. It was at this point that a fantastic idea (which I will take full credit for) was born – CUCC does Come Dine with Me on tour. 6 nights, 6 hastily organised couples prepare a two-course meal and entertainment and compete for the most points – what could go wrong? After a couple of isotonic IPAs and fermented apple juices, we retired for the night. The next day brought the first proper day of riding, which we all unanimously agreed was Day 2. At first 82km seemed like a bit of a joke – ‘that’s less than 3 hours surely?’. Oh how wrong we were. The major issue was the ascent of the Puerto de Tudons, all 17.5km of it, taking us nearly 900m upwards. Unsurprisingly, this took a while, but less time for Joe Adlam-Cook who pulled an absolute classic Joe move and attacked almost instantly. Well, it was more of a case of cruising to the front of the train, asking how long it was to the top, and just going anyway. Rather unsurprisingly, this took everyone with him and it was every man and woman for themselves from there on in. The Tudons climb was featured on Stage 20 of the 2016 Vuelta, and I can tell you for one that I did not resemble Nairo Quintana on the way up, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, especially the descent into the mountain town that would be our lunch stop that followed.
In Guadalest, CUCC did what it did best – eat a lot of food, including lasagne and cheesecake, perfect training fuel – before cruising down the valley. In this section we were pursued by a couple of friendly DSM riders who particularly enjoyed it when Zoe sprinted past them on the descent. This took us down to the beach where Sam almost had a head-on with an irate QuickStep rider (which might have made the Classic season a bit more interesting). Here we enjoyed a refreshing drink and the end of an Arsenal game, how wonderfully British. Back home, Joe & Joris prepared a hearty serving of traditional paella and a roscon de reyes for dessert, a Spanish Christmas cake thing with lucky beans inside. Turns out these beans aren’t edible, and neither is the weird little porcelain Jesus figurine. Just a heads up for you all.Continue reading
Freshers’ TT – Saturday 9th October 2021
Starting off CUCC’s riding and racing for this academic year was our Annual Freshers’ Time Trial with 44 racers of all levels of experience willing to test their mettle against our 9.5km TT loop from Newton. Our events secs had clearly put the work into setting it all up, booking some beautiful weather and multiple flyovers from a Lancaster Bomber (we think – we’re cyclists, not plane spotters) for what turned out to be an excellent day of racing.
We had some excellent pain faces today seen in the photos from our favourite photographer Nordin (@nordincatic), however questions were raised about how seriously some riders took the no TT equipment rule with rumours from the marshals about there maybe even being an 80mm deep wheel present at the event! Due to some traffic lights on the course this year, we had to run a marginally shorter route but the results were as impressive as ever with some rapid times in both the men’s and women’s categories.
We had some blistering times in the women’s category with our podium all within a minute of the fastest time. Rosie Wallace recorded an speedy 15:57 to win first place with Clara Dunbavin not far behind at 16:17 and Charlotte Wilde seconds after that at 16:32. The rest of the women’s field of 8 all also put out amazing times in what has been a very competitive start of CUCC’s racing calendar.
In the hotly contested men’s category there were some amazing times with the top 5 riders all recording sub 14-minute times and none more than 10 seconds apart. Sam Lewin put out the fastest time of the day with an eye-watering 13:21 with Jack Shuttleworth close behind at 13:28 followed shortly by Luke Andrews at 13:35. The remainder of the 36 riders out today weren’t far behind with some positions decided by literally a second and very good times all around.
Thanks all for coming to the TT as its always great to see so much interest in trying cycling/racing and we hope to see all these new faces out on the road (and in the pub)!
North Coast 500 Report
The North Coast 500 is a route developed by the Scottish tourism board, with the aim of increasing visitor numbers to the beautiful but remote Highlands. Generally the route is undertaken in motorhomes, but Euan and I decided to do it on our bikes. We’d had a test tour on the King Alfred’s Way, a 460 km off-road loop between Reading and Salisbury, which had been character building (pitching a tent at 11:30pm on day two) so felt somewhat prepared for whatever Scotland had to throw at us. Which turned out to be rain, mostly.
We followed the GCN version of the route, designed by Mark Beaumont, which leaves the classic NC500 before John o’ Groats to cut South and avoid the busiest stretch of the A9. This also leaves the route short of its advertised 500 miles, so needs an extra loop around the Black Isle to finish. The GCN lot did it in three days but this seemed unnecessary- it’s worth noting that Mark Beaumont holds the world record for fastest circumnavigation of the Earth by bicycle, which he did in 78 and a half days, so possibly isn’t a suitable judge of “good idea”.
- Day 1: Inverness to Lochcarron (108 kilometres / 67 miles)
The first day took us most of the way from Inverness to the west coast, a fairly dull route but with views of the mountains and we were blessed with decent weather (and our first midges). We had a gentle tailwind for the most part, which was a welcome feature of the whole ride- miraculously the wind kept changing as we changed direction, so there weren’t many days suffering into a headwind.
- Day 2: Lochcarron to Kinlochewe (101 km / 62 mi)
Day two took us into the hills, with the longest climb in the UK within half an hour of setting out from the campsite. Bealach na Ba has several hairpins and is supposedly the most alpine climb in this country, although the cloud did come to meet us as we rode uphill. It’s 8km / 5 miles averaging 7%, with some savage pitches at the end. This lump in the route profile obscured what was to follow, which ended up being another three hours of very tough up and down, on wet coast roads. We finished in the midgiest campsite in the world, and had to keep walking around while setting up our tent, cooking and having our dinner to avoid being eaten alive.
- Day 3: Kinlochewe to Ullapool (123 km / 76 mi)
We set out early on day three to avoid midges and a wet forecast. We’d planned an easier day, but when we got to our endpoint at Garve we found there was nothing there and it was only lunchtime. We worked our way through a p p p packet of penguins and set off up An Teallach, which was a hard climb on tired legs. We did have a rival group of cycle tourists to catch, and were rewarded for our efforts with cups of tea and Tunnocks tea cakes when we caught up to the van those riders had cunningly left all of their baggage in. Arriving in Ullapool meant visiting The Seafood Shack, eating battered haddock wraps. This was the best thing I’ve eaten this year (although the free Tunnocks tea cake is also in the top five which perhaps devalues my ranking system).
- Day 4: Ullapool to Scourie (104 km / 64 mi)
Having ridden half of day four’s route on day three, we had a day of two half routes. The morning was sunny and rolling, with lovely views of Stac Pollaidh. It all went horribly wrong for me after pies for lunch, and I had my worst day of the tour on a very hard, long road- when it wasn’t going straight up it went straight down, and it rained both heavily and constantly. The day had over 2000m of elevation and I think I felt every metre of it!
- Day 5: Scourie to Durness (46 km / 28 mi)
Day five was a short one as we’d completely butchered our itinerary and needed a short one. We rolled over to Durness and went to a cafe called Cocoa Mountain for a very very good hot chocolate. At this point we were over halfway through the route and had done more than half of the climbing.
- Day 6: Durness to Melvich (92 km / 57 mi)
On the sixth day we were blessed with more rain, with periods of lovely sun. We were both quite cooked, but did get to see birds of prey and some lovely views of the coast.
- Day 7: Melvich to Rogart (102 km / 63 mi)
Day seven was where we left the standard route and cut southwest, going through the most remote bits of the trip. We went up our final big climb of the trip, and had lunch in Brora, which was the only town for miles around. Then back into empty highlands for some wild camping, with a screeching tawny owl camped up next to us.
- Day 8: Rogart to Portrose (126 km/ 78 mi)
Our penultimate day brought another early start, which combined with a short route lead us to decide to carry on, onto the Black Isle. This meant going within touching distance of Inverness and then turning off for a 64 kilometre / 40 mile extra loop. Fortunately it was relatively flat with one significant and unwelcome climb away from the lovely coast road, which was not very nice on deadlegs. We got our first portion of chips in Dingwall, shockingly late on in the trip, and looked for dolphins at Portose harbour.
- Day 9: Portrose to Inverness (25 km / 15 mi)
The last day was very short, just a gentle roll over the bridge into Inverness, then up to the castle to get our “after” photos. We celebrated our victory over the North Coast 500 with Costa mochas before setting off home.
We had planned to cover the distance in nine full days of riding with one rest day in the middle and a couple of shorter days, but ended up doing it in eight and a bit days (the last day only taking about an hour to cover the 15 miles we had left). This was mainly because, on our short days, we’d arrive at our destination and realise there wasn’t much there, so we may as well just keep cycling. We rode with everything we needed- tents, clothing, cooking gear, spares and tools, and bought food en route. Our preparation included coming up with a comprehensive list of the campsites, cafes, shops and bike shops along the route, found on Google Maps. This was really useful for knowing where we needed to stop (and helped when we did change our plans for distance covered each day). We were lucky with mechanicals, without so much as a puncture between us. We both rode gravel bikes with slick/ road tyres. It was a good, if hard, tour.
Distance: 827 km / 510 mi
Elevation: 10,764 m / 35314 ft