CUCC ride kit for 2021-2022 will be once again supplied by Le Col, and our widest selection to date will be available to club members and our alumni – coming November 2021.
It had been a long time coming, but more than two years after the last event, on the 11th July the Cycling Varsity match finally returned. Oxf*rd had been unable to make BUCS 25 earlier in the year, so instead of the standard Bottisham circuit, this year’s time trial was instead hosted on the E1/25d course starting just outside of Ugley near Saffron Walden.
Unfortunately, some temporary traffic lights on the Friday evening put the event at risk! But thanks to the incredible generosity and effort of the Essex Roads CC organisers, when the lights disappeared at the last minute, we were still able to run a full 25 mile event – albeit with only Oxf*rd and Cambridge riders competing.
We were blessed with some good sunny, still conditions on the rolling out and back course which promised some fast times. With only varsity riders involved, once competitors were out on course, there was an even more spirited atmosphere than usual, with plenty of chances to shout encouragement to teammates being passed on the course!
All in all, CUCC had 15 riders taking part, looking to win the Women’s event for the first time in 6 years, and defend our long-held Men’s trophy. Having not competed against O*ford in a number of years, it was all to play for, with no real knowledge of what to expect from the opposition!
The women’s event was a close run affair, with Elspeth Grace (2nd, 1:01:26), Zoe Burrell (4th, 1:02:12) and Rebekah Nash (5th, 1:04:06) narrowly missing out by 1 minute and 13 seconds from the Oxford women’s side, led home by Anna Murgatroyd, who won the overall in 1:00:04.
With some strong rides from Jack Brown (2nd, 53:03), Jack Kellam (3rd, 53:29) and Euan Tebbutt (who recovered from a minor “sit down” to finish 4th in 54:49) the men’s squad was able to hold onto the trophy with a combined time of 2:41:31, enough to beat Oxf*rd’s effort of 2:43:50, despite a fast ride from Matthew Coulson, who won overall with a 52:26.
As a result of their performances, half-blues have therefore been awarded to the top three riders from the men’s and women’s events! Congratulations also go to Jack Brown, who earns another Full Blue, having already completed the remaining criteria earlier this season.
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.
Last weekend saw CUCC return to our local and beloved Hill Climb course with a healthy turnout of over 30 determined riders eager to test themselves up the deceptive climb. Consisting of a gentle slope followed up shortly by a sharply increasing gradient before a final sprint to the finish over the top, the hill can be tricky to pace despite Cambridge’s flat reputation and is still a tough one on the legs.
Luckily the conditions on the day were excellent, with plenty of sunshine and even a slight tailwind! A notable improvement from the conditions at our previous event, the Freshers’ TT, as those who were there I’m sure would attest.
In the women’s field, the competition was so close we had a draw for 1st place! Elspeth Grace and Mathilde Pauls both smashing out an impressive 2 minutes and 1 second. Hot on their heels was Zoe Burrel, showing off some great multi-disciplinary talent by following up on her 2nd place at the Freshers’ Time Trial and securing the next podium spot only 3 seconds behind. And the final podium spot went to Anne-Marie Bowring with a time of 2 minutes and 17 seconds; excellent efforts all around!
Likewise, in the men’s field the competition was well and truly on with only 2 and 1 seconds separating 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. Euan Tebbut charged to victory this year with a time of 1:40, just ahead of Ollie Moseley with a 1:42 and Joe Adlam-Cook, once again taking the title of fastest fresher, with a time of 1:43. Off the podium there was no lack of rapid times either with time differences between places often being just a single second showing every watt/kilogram counted. Unfortunately, our hill climb specialists George and Craig, who both put in stellar performances at the National HC recently, couldn’t be there this time as they tired themselves out on their – admittedly quite long (70 miles) and scenic – ride over to the course.
James Quigley, our events secretary, concludes: "Special thanks to Elspeth and Euan who not only competed (and did rather well!) but also helped do timekeeping for portions of the event. And thank you to everyone who came to compete for making the event as fun and successful as it was, I hope everyone had a great time, or at least as much as possible when doing a hill climb!"
Naturally, credits are also in order for James himself, who has managed to organise two great club races this term, despite limitations and a premature end to club rides and other activities, as the club moves to alternatives like riding in pairs and on virtual platforms.
With the darkness now drawing in ever earlier, the racing season for 2021 has come to a close for CUCC’s time triallists – with only this weekend’s club hill climb up Gog Magog left to finish. It’s been a strange, abridged season, but club riders have nevertheless managed to achieve some fantastic results in the two months since the last update.
In September, the club sent a good contingent to the National 25 Championships on a quick course in the Midlands. Standout ride was Dave Bell, who finished first of our riders in 40th with a 51:13. Close behind were Ali Goby (48th), Jack Brown (49th), and Euan Tebbutt (64th), showing the strength in depth we’re beginning to develop.
Up in the North East, on the 4th October, Jack Brown and alumnus Rob Walker both took part in the National 50 Championships. On a greasy course, with a number of tumbles for competitors at roundabouts, both stayed upright to record superb results. Rob managed 9th with a 1:43:34 while Jack was 11th with a 1:44:40.
The string of high placings at Nationals continued on our home course, the E33/25 at Bottisham, where the 2020 Circuit Championships were held at the end of the month. Elspeth Grace took home a brilliant 10th in the women’s category, while Rob Walker stormed to another top-10 position in 9th. Men’s race captain Jack Kellam took home a solid 29th, accompanied by a number of strong performances from riders in the separate road bike event that day – topped by Emma Andrews winning in the women’s field.
Finally, George Spooner and Craig Rogers managed to sufficiently avoid getting trapped in self-isolation to head to the National Hill Climb Championships on Streatley Hill – a short, sharp brute of a climb for this year’s course. In a frankly massive field of riders, both put it storming runs to take 14th (Craig) and 15th (George) respectively, separated by only tenths of a second! Both will be heading to the club event on Sunday with a score to settle…
Kicking off CUCC’s return to Cambridge after a longer than usual summer, filled with plenty of time-trialling successes for many, what better way to start the academic year than with our Freshers’ Time Trial! This year saw an unprecedented turnout of over 60 keen cyclists of all experience levels eager to test themselves around our customary 6 mile loop between the villages of Newton and Little Shelford.
Unfortunately the weather did not remain on our side during the event and left many of our riders battling the rain as well as the clock as they powered their way around the course. However, this didn't stop some truly impressive times being recorded on the day.
Joe Adlam-Cook and Daniel Slater both recorded blistering sub 14-minute times, 13:45 and 13:56 respectively on the men's side. The remainder of the 49 strong field were certainly not far behind and was strongly competitive across the whole range of results with lots of ties and mere seconds separating many with highly respectable times all round.
The women’s side also saw fierce competition for the podium spots with only a handful of seconds between places; Clare Jackson, Zoe Burrell and Charlotte Brass recording outstanding times of 16:00, 16:05 and 16:26 respectively. In addition, the competition remained strong beyond the podium with outstanding times across all 11 riders in the women’s field.
Overall, CUCC are very pleased with the event and especially the amount of interest in trying out cycling given the stellar turn-out, something which has extended to our weekend club rides recently also. Plenty of amazing times on the day and lots of strong riders with lots of potential. We hope that it was enjoyable for all despite the conditions and that many of you continue to enjoy cycling with the club throughout the year. See you all at the Hill Climb next week!
Since the return of racing to British roads in late July, CUCC members have started to put all of their lockdown training to good use, with a string of great results already on the books – including club records, PBs and national championships – and plenty of competitive action still to come in a busy late season schedule.
More time-trialling success
Recent alumnus Rob Walker kept hold of his CUCC skinsuit to record a blistering 19:14 on the F2a/10 just west of Cambridge in one of the first events back at the end of July, powering through conditions so horrific that the race was cancelled shortly after his ride!
The following weekend, there was a strong club performance at the Bedfordshire RCC 25, where Dave Bell smashed his PB to record a 51:58, and Jack Kellam put together a decent ride for a 53:03. Not to be outdone though, Lucy Havard rode over 25 miles from Cambridge to the race start at 6:30am, did an impressive 1:05:24 in her first TT, and then cycled all the way home – simply ridiculous.
Meanwhile, Elspeth Grace has been honing her transition from national-level ‘crosser to aero time-trialling machine at her local club events in Welwyn, recording a number of increasingly speedy times, a 23:31 being her PB for the summer over 10 miles.
In the midlands, Euan ‘The Duck’ Tebbutt and Ali Golby have put in a number of strong regional performances, including taking 11th (21:38) and 4th (20:47) respectively in the overall round Mallory Park over 10 miles this August. A 20:58 on the K11/10T a week later also spelled a PB for Euan in an impressive summer’s racing.
Jack Kellam has continued to pick up top ten places at sporting courses around the South East of the country, while Rob Walker recovered from disappointment at this year’s National 100 Championships (where an onset of cramp derailed a promising run) to take 2nd at the V.C.Baracchi 50 mile event in Suffolk.
National Championships & Club Records
With CTT National Championships events pushed back to later in the year, after the cancellation of BUCS and Varsity, club riders have been able to focus their attention on new goals.
At one of the strongest fields ever for a National 10 Championships, alumni Rob Walker and Ali Golby donned minty green as our club representation at the H10/3R in Newbury. After a solid 20:58 for Ali, a rapid 19:30 by Rob catapulted him into 21st place which, in an absolutely stacked field of nearly 150 riders, was an incredibly impressive result.
Vying for ride of the summer so far, however, was Club President Jack Brown’s new CUCC record for a 100-mile TT at the start of September. Coming off the back of a seemingly endless summer of touring, Jack was somehow capable of jumping onto his TT bike and riding at nearly 44km/h for an imperial century to record 3:39:39 and smash a decades-old club record – almost more impressive when his race report reads that he “blew his doors off” with 10 miles to go, and had a full bladder (so to speak) for over three hours!
Hill climb season – and the start of term – approaches
With the start of term around the corner, club riders have been returning to Cambridge and its famed training triangle. On the 13th September, the club had a number of starters at Cambridge CC’s event on the F2a/25 course west of the city. On a fast, if blustery day, Elspeth Grace smashed her way to a new PB, recording a 57:20 and finishing high in the women’s category behind winner – and CUCC alumna – Hayley Simmons. Dave Bell ticked off his ‘sub-50’ goal for the season, sneaking under the mark with a 49:57, while Jack Brown did a rapid 48:53 to finish 14th.
Meanwhile, with the seasons changing, hill climb season has got back underway and CUCC’s resident watts-per-kilogram machines, Craig Rogers and George Spooner, have been back in action. Craig took 6th up Holly Lane at the Ilkeston CC event on 6th September, while George placed 3rd at CC Basingstoke the following weekend. Keep your eyes peeled for their performances at this year’s nationals on a favourable short, steep climb at Streatley near O*ford.
The delayed start to the season means there’s plenty of racing still to come, and with the National Circuit Championships being held on our ‘home ground’ – the E33/25, or ‘Botty Triangle’ course – the club will be looking to impress!