by Matt Rizzo-Naudi
With another hill climb season under the collective CUCC belt, it is time to reflect and remind ourselves that we do in fact enjoy riding our bikes despite the long cold days spent climbing hills for mid-pack finishes. With the nearby summits including Chapel Hill and Gog Magog, CUCC, unsurprisingly, had another brilliant season, mopping up many medals along the way.
First up was OUCC Hill Climb on 21st October with an early start at the Sports Centre. CUCC cleaned up the medal table, taking the men’s and women’s overall wins with Will Lowden and Phoebe Barker, as well as the men’s and women’s varsities with Will, Joe A-C and Ben Proctor, and Phoebe, Sannah Zaman and Maddie Angwin – we could not have asked for a better start to the season. We would like to say a big thanks to Oxford for hosting us and organising the entire event! The highlight for me was the post-hill climb social ride with multiple riders, committee members no less, being told off for launching attacks. All I can say is that I was just following the wheels.
Next up was our very own hill climb up the savage Gog Magog – there’s a reason they built a hospital right next to it. Go too hard at the start and you’ve probably finished before the lactate sets in. Just as we ordered, the heavy rain began right as we started sign-on. In the back of Alex’s Land Rover, we quickly found out the packing fraction of CUCCers – it was indeed not large enough with many people left outside, feeling very cold. Or so they looked from inside. Despite the ridiculously cramped conditions, sign-on was completed, and attention turned to the great pain faces on show, as riders battled their way up the hill. Maddie Angwin deployed her presidential watts to win the women’s competition, with Joe A-C putting on another classic performance, winning the men’s. Special mention must go to Louis for doing an amazing job organising the whole event! We really appreciate it.
A few CUCC members decided to trade Gog Magog for the dizzy heights of the Lake District and The Struggle on 29th October for the National Hill Climb Championships. The likes of Andrew Feather and Ed Laverack were quaking in their Sidis at the thought of being pitted against CUCC’s finest hill climbers and their machines. The CUCC team, comprised of Will Lowden, Francis Schofield and Jacob Lewis, had an incredible performance – all well within the top 50 % of riders. Special mention must go to Will, only 20 seconds off a top-10 result with a severely over-geared set up. Needless to say it left him with a cadence which made my knees hurt just watching. Cameron Walker, a CUCC member racing under the Elevate Race Team, had a superb performance only a few seconds behind Francis who managed to sneak into the top 50. If anyone has seen the photos or videos from the event, it is easy to see why hill climbs are so popular here – I had goosebumps just watching!
BUCS Hill Climb, the finale of the hill climb season, started with another early morning and a trek to somewhere off the A1. There was indeed a hill, and we rode up it. For early November, the weather was, fortunately, abysmal. Phoebe continued her clean sweep of hill climb victories this year, taking the overall women’s win. Although she was again closely followed by Sannah in 2nd place, allowing CUCC to comfortably win the women’s overall competition. In an outstanding repeat of the OUCC Hill Climb, Will, Ben and Joe all put in top-15 performances to win bronze in the men’s team competition. Their backs need a well-earned rest from all the carrying they have been doing so far this season. Special mention must go to CUCC alumnus, Craig Rogers, now racing for Newcastle, who led the event for most of the day, only to be pipped for the win by Oxford’s ‘Andrew Feather’, Matthew Coulson. After multiple attempts to manoeuvre the van and remember how to use a clutch, the CUCC Van® was back off to Cambridge with another huge medal haul. A fantastic day full of laughs, cold hands and rain, I would nearly choose to do it again.
It would seem the club-subsidised university events were not enough for some, with members spending hard-earned student loans on more open hill climb events around the country. Streatley Hill near Reading was graced with the Fenland Watts on 17th September (yes, this isn’t in chronological order 🤡) – multiple members came out of summer hibernation to perform some max efforts: Matt Davison, Tom Hale, Maddie and recent alumnus Zoe Burrell ensured CUCC gave ample warning to the other universities to get their act together before the season proper. Another mention to Cam Walker for bagging a top-10 for his team! Numerous other events were entered strengthening the CUCC hill climb name, with strong showings by CUCC members and alumni including: Tim B and Jacob at The Urban Hill Climb in mid-September and Cam Walker who took multiple top-10s in the Chilterns.
And with that, the club’s racing for the calendar year is at an end. A huge thanks must go to all those who helped organise transport, entries and the events themselves: Louis Stuart, Tom Wade and Phoebe Barker – the smooth running of these events was all thanks to them. Lastly, thanks and well done to all those who rode any of the hill climbs – I certainly had a great time and I hope you all did too. Being able to take such large teams to these events really makes me realise how much the club can come together to support each other – the fact that we are competing on such a high-level nationally is a testament to this. I hope everyone has a restful holiday and is as excited as I am for the year to come!
For a summary of results, see the ‘Results Archive’ on our website under the ‘Racing’ tab.
If you’d like to get involved with any of the racing in the club, or simply have any questions, please email one (or all!) of your race captains: Matt (mlar2), Tom (tjh93), Jo (jgm42) and Phoebe (prab2)