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Cyclists Kate and Hester reach dizzying heights in BUCS Hill Climb 2017

Press release issued: 19 December 2017

After celebrating all things #ThisGirlCan recently, we took a look at the recent success of two of Bristol University’s finest female cyclists Kate Mactear and Hester Stembridge in the 2017 BUCS Hill Climb.

The 28th October saw the University of Bristol Cycling Club enjoy some great success stories at the annual BUCS hill climb event. This year the event took place in Sheffield, a city whose hill game is a strong rival to Bristol’s undulating terrain. We’ve all endured the mental and physical exertion of an ascent of St. Michael’s Hill, but imagine taking on something longer and steeper, against the clock, all whilst on a bike.

The competition involved a timed ascent of Pea Royd Lane, featuring both team and individual events for men and women. A relatively short but steep course with a few sharp corners, Pea Royd Lane is a classic hill climb route that really tests grit, determination and sheer strength, where riders must conquer a gradient of 20% as they near the top. Ouch!

Performance Squad member Kate Mactear put in an outstanding performance to snatch the top spot from her fellow competitors, with a time of three minutes 13 seconds, putting her an incredible 8 seconds ahead of 2nd place. She partnered with Hester Stembridge for the team event to forge an indomitable pairing that monopolised the field, and went on to take home gold. Hester also displayed a brilliant individual performance, finishing in sixth position with a commendable time of three minutes 48 seconds.

Pea Royd Lane also saw the men’s team put in an accomplished effort, featuring another top 10 individual finish for Fred Cook, who came seventh out of a staggering 188 competitors. The men were just nudged off a podium spot in the team event however, taking home a respectable fourth place.

The competition displayed the sheer athletic talent currently at large within the University of Bristol Cycling Club, and gave a promise for more future stories of success. We shall eagerly await.

In the meantime, Kate Mactear talked to us about the event and of her experience with UOBCC:

How did you get into cycling?

I actually joined the Triathlon club in my first year at University but wanted to improve my confidence on the bike so got involved with the cycling club. They’re such a friendly and welcoming group of people. There was such a great group of girls who all raced regularly and they encouraged me to come along and give it a try. It’s a little bit addictive and every race that I took part in gradually built up my confidence. Triathlon is my main sport but I enjoy the cycling races because they always push me out of my comfort zone, and that’s when I know that I’m really improving!

How did you prepare for the event?

I entered the hill climb that was hosted by the University recently to practice doing a really hard and short effort. I also found a hill near Bristol that’s about the same length and gradient as the BUCS hip climb and did a few hill rep sessions on that. To put the race into perspective, the BUCS hill is a bit steeper than St. Michael’s Hill and about 4 times as long!

How much difference does the quality of the bike make?

In hill climbing, the most important thing about your bike is to make it as light as possible. I rode my boyfriend’s hill climbing bike, which weighs 5.3kg and only has one gear at the front. It’s totally stripped down, so anything that isn’t necessary like a water bottle holder or bar tape is taken off.

What is your next goal?

I’m doing the BUCS Duathlon in the next few weeks. It’s fiercely competitive and I’m aiming for a top 10 finish. Then it’ll be my off season so I’ve got time to work on a few things before next year. The triathlon season starts with a BUCS sprint at the beginning of May, so I need to focus on my swimming and get a few cycling CRIT races [several laps around a closed circuit] done to practise cornering and bunch riding.

What would you say to anyone thinking of getting involved in cycling?

I would say don’t be scared to get out there and give it a try! I’m really passionate about getting more girls into cycling and racing, and trying to get women’s cycling the recognition it deserves. You can get a second-hand bike off gumtree for as little as £50, so it's a lot more accessible than people think. Start by cycling into uni each day and gradually build up your distance. Or maybe try a ride up to the Downs or over the Suspension bridge to Ashton Court. Before you know it you’ll be going distances you never thought were possible. We’re so lucky in Bristol because we’ve got the Mendips, the Cotswolds and even Wales so close by, and you can see so much more travelling by bike! 

Further information

If the club’s recent triumphs have inspired you to get involved with cycling, you can get in touch with them through their Facebook page, or via Twitter at: @UOBCyclingClub.