FEATURE: Hill Climb Champs a soggy success!

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The Sheffield cycling community came together in impressive style to help stage the RTTC National Hill Climb Championship on Winnats Pass last weekend.

Held on the Peak District climb for the first time since 1977, the event was organised primarily by Rutland CC and myHillCycling.co.uk on behalf of the North Midlands District Committee.

But the joint race organisers Nick Latimer and Chris Myhill said it would not have been possible without the wider cycling community coming together to help.

The event had over 60 helpers on the day despite wet conditions including some on the course, at the headquarters and marshalling the road closures and car parks.

“We were so impressed with all the people who came to help,” said Latimer. “One cycling club wouldn’t have been big enough to do that.

“Rutland CC was the main club organising it, but we had volunteers from pretty much all of the other local cycling clubs. It was actually a really nice occasion for Sheffield cycling clubs because everybody worked together.

“It was pretty good for fostering relationships between the cycling clubs as well. Things like pushing people off it was good to have a mixture of young and older people available.

“Especially in those conditions as people could easily catch colds and get ill themselves stood out in that for a long time.

“It’s essential for the future of the sport to have these people willing to help out. It was an awful lot of work. I was pretty stunned about the amount of work it required actually.

“There were probably five to 10 people who did loads of work on the event.”

Winnats Pass has not been used for a cycling hill climb since 1980 and Latimer said that having secured the National Hill Climb Championship in the district it was then that the idea of holding it on the prestigious climb was launched.

“We were asked to run the national two and a half years ago but it wasn’t really said what climb we had to use,” added Latimer.

“It had been such a long time since there was a race on Winnats and for a National Championships if you were ever to get a race on there again and a road closure then that’s the time to do it.

“So we thought we might as well try so that’s what we did.”

However Latimer said it was not all plain sailing after the Castleton Parish Council initially opposed to the event, before the organisers addressed their comments which included having an early start and a restricted field size of 300 riders at 30 seconds intervals to limit the road closure.

Organisers also attended Castleton Parish Council meetings and any profit made from the event was donated to the council for local charities and causes.

That resulted in the parish council supporting the event.

On the day heavy rain greeted competitors with Tom Bell (High North Performance) winning the men’s event in a new course record of three minutes and 1.6 seconds, while the women’s winner was Bithja Jones (Pankhurst Cycles) in 4-00.4.

Latimer said that the event exceeded the expectations of the organisers and was worth all the hard work.

“It was only going to rain heavily for three hours that day but it was going to be at the time the race was on,” added Latimer.

“But in the end I think it added to the atmosphere of the climb and made it an extreme challenge and added to the atmosphere.

“It exceeded all of our expectations and it was a long time in the making. Since the event all the comments, pictures and videos we’ve been having has made it all worthwhile.

“The record of it in the photos and the videos is something that is going to last for years and years. We were looking at the events held in the 60s and 70s and in the months leading up to the event we thought imagine recreating that now.

“But now we have got all those photos we have recreated it and it looks the same.”

* All reports are copyright of Cycling Time Trials/Snowdon Sports. Not to be used without permission.