The club is very pleased to announce that at the start of the season it signed a sponsorship contract with Evans Cycles. Their Durham store has been invaluable to the club in the past, having provided the club with an excellent standard of service, such that they have become the local bike shop of choice for most of the club. It was therefore a great honour for the club to form this partnership.
The season started off with the club’s annual hill climb competition. This is held 25KM outside of Durham on Wear Bank in the North Pennines, an area of outstanding natural beauty bequeathed with perilously steep climbs. The DUCC Hill Climb course is no exception, averaging 9% over 1.1KM, with sections up to 17% – a fierce climb perfectly suited to the fierce competition!
In the men’s event the standard of the competition was set down early, when Jack Crook, an unseeded fresher who was relatively unknown in the club before this, put down a time of 4:11, just 7 seconds off last year’s winning time of 4:04. Many came close to this time, with 15 people breaking 5:00 this year. However it was last year’s champion Jamie Francis who won, taking his third title, after he put down an incredible time of 3:51, just 2 seconds off the course record.
In the women’s event triathlete Victoria Duncan won in a time of 5:16, putting 5 seconds into her rival Lara Spearman, whom she came joint first with last time.
Not long after we faced BUCS Hill Climb, this year it was held on Pea Royd Lane, a gruelling 720m at 14%! Unfortunately we couldn’t match last year’s result in the men’s event with Jamie Francis, the club hill climb champion, finishing in 42nd. However in the women’s event Lara Spearman got an excellent result, finishing 10th for the second year in a row!
The rest of Michaelmas term was spent getting the all-important winter miles in. We are highly fortunate in Durham having the North Pennines to train in, which means that winter miles don’t feel like winter miles; they are filled with stunning climbs and awe inspiring views. One of the many highlight of the training was climbing Chapel Fell, the highest pass in England, an incredible climbs that looks endless from the bottom! However nothing could quite compare to the annual Spain training camp.
This year we were once again greeted by great weather in Spain, which set the stage for a brilliant week of riding. Over the 9 days of riding we covered 800KM and climbed over 15,000m! The highlight of the camp was the race against Cambridge University Cycling Club up the Col de Rates. The race started gently as CUCC tried to bluff us by sending a rider up the road they claimed to be their top time trialist, however after he was easily brought back at 300 watts, their plot was foiled! The pace then picked up rapidly, and the 30 strong bunch was quickly reduced to an elite group of 12 riders by halfway up, with all 6 of the DUCC riders on camp making the selection. Coming into the closing quarter of the race the pace became unrelenting, with the front group being reduced to 3 riders, 2 from CUCC and 1 from DUCC. As they went around the final corner Jamie Francis from DUCC timed his sprint to perfection, winning the race for Durham!
We can’t mention Spain without saying on a huge thanks to Vice-President Michael Sleeman for organising the camp, and to Adam and Alex from Citrus Cycling for looking after us so well once again!