So do you remember just a few weeks ago I brought you the news that our writer Heather Bamforth had been shortlisted for the #BeAGameChanger Women’s Sport Trust – Ambassador of Women’s Sport Award? Well the talented lady has only gone and beaten some formidable talent to the final (Judy Murray being one well know name who has fallen by the wayside). Heather will line up against two very well respected women; Ebony Rainford-Brent (cricketer) and Maureen McGonigle (Scottish Women in Sport advocate) for the final.
But lets not sit back… Heather needs all the support we can muster in the cycling community from both men and women to enable her to lift the trophy to represent all cyclists. So please take two seconds to drop by the Women’s Trust website and cast a well deserved vote in Heather’s direction. We can do this!
If my nagging hasn’t persuaded you here is a bit more about Heather:
Heather Bamforth has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to increase the number of opportunities for women in competitive cycling, and has done so as a volunteer in her spare time.
She joined the Cyclingshorts.cc writing team in 2012 where she actively promotes women’s cycling, and the inaugural North West women’s series in 2013, which featured groundbreaking grassroots road racing for women, this was Heather’s brainchild.
In 2014, along with three others Heather established The Racing Chance Foundation, a registered charity which provides women with a pathway in competitive cycling from novice to elite level.
Racing Chance has already coached over 200 women and inspired similar series across the UK that have resulted in British Cycling seeing an increase in female membership, with female racing licences increasing from 800 in 2012 to over 1,500 in 2015.
Heather spends an enormous amount of time helping to get women cycling by running training rides, with training sessions on closed circuits to help novices build confidence and skills before venturing onto the roads, along with events which are suitable for women who want to try road racing for the first time.
During the day Heather has a full time career, working in Restructuring Services for Mazars LLP, an international accountancy and business advisory firm.
About the Women’s Sports Trust:
Women’s Sports Trust are a charity that identifies and promotes a diverse range of role models, they find ways to shift the funding landscape for women’s sport and increase the percentage and quality of media coverage women receive.
While I’ve got your ear cycling feature in the following categories as finalists. Please give them a vote too…
Sporting Role Model – Individual – Helen Wyman
Sponsor Partnership of the Year – Queensway Print/Drops Cycling Team
Inspiring Initative – National Award – Aviva Women’s Tour
Inspiring Initiate Award Local/Grassroots – Abergavenny Road Club
‘Cheering on a Competitor’ – My daughter Megan takes on the climb – Image ©David James
When I wrote my first blog for Cycling Shorts I was quite worried when I would be able to write a follow up. Well here I am one day after my “Ponderings from the Velodrome” went online and I find myself with about five hours to kill as I’m on a rapid return journey to Manchester by train.
As I get on the train in Abergavenny I am quite excited to be able to wear my new adidas Sennheiser headphones which were a present from Becky, so my first job is to select some appropriate music on my iPod and make a choice; either continue reading Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage, someone who I am really pleased to say I share a birthday with, or get my note pad and pen out and start scribbling. The fact that you’re reading this gives away the winner!
I did suggest last time that I would write about organising my first ever hill-climb and the thrills of cyclocross, but as the hill-climb was such a success and as I have been hassled ever since to make it an annual event, I am going to stick to just the one subject.
When as a family we first joined Abergavenny Road Club nearly ten years ago I remember one of the first ever road events we went to watch was the club’s Hill-Climb Championship. Living in Abergavenny we are fortunate to have many fantastic road climbs in close proximity to the town, the most famous of which is ‘The Tumble’. This climb has been used on many major events over the years; I can remember watching the Milk Race going up there many years ago and more recently, watching at the toughest part of the climb the last time the National Road Championships were held in the town in 2009.
‘Marking Up the Road’ my son Gareth on the right and my daughter Rachel’s boyfriend Luke on his hands and knees – ©Image David James
The club’s hill-climb used to start just as the road up The Tumble comes out of the trees about half way up the climb and was about one mile in length. In those early years I can recall about twenty riders taking part. I remember the winner the first time I watched, Nick Kenwright, someone who I believe had represented GB. Last year only two riders took part! Whether this drop in competitor numbers is because of the toughness of the climb, because there has been an increase in traffic, or for some other reason, the club’s committee decided we had to do something to rejuvenate the competition.
As we are good friends with Wiggle rider Ben Simmons who has been winning a few Red Bull Hill-Climbs around the country I thought it would be good to try something similar. I suggested to the club committee “Why not use the hill up to our house? We can get a road closure and all the kids can take part as well.” And so the inaugural ‘Cwmheulog Hill-Climb’ was born.
As we live up a dead-end lane, first thing was to get all the neighbours on board: job done! Next up was to speak to Monmouthshire County Council about the road closure. As a local authority Monmouthshire are a pleasure to work with and do everything they can to help with cycling in the county: job done!
Now the question was should I widely advertise the event or just keep it local and see how it goes? Keep it small scale was the consensus of opinion, so I sent out a leaflet with all the details and asked people to email or ring me to let me know if they were coming in order that we could provide free food for all competitors and spectators. With one day to go only one email had been received and I was starting to think it was going to be a big flop. That was until the night before the event when I was made aware that the email address I had put on the leaflet had been misspelt! How could I be so stupid?
A disturbed night’s sleep deliberating what to do, so first thing Saturday morning I’m in Tesco Abergavenny with my youngest Megan buying 120 sausages (half fat!), 120 fingers rolls and 25 garlic baguettes thinking I can always put the surplus in the freezer.
‘Hoping For A Top Quality Competition’ – Image ©David James
5.00pm comes around and the barriers and road closure signs are in place and there’s already a steady stream of cyclists and spectators making their way up the hill to signing on at our house.
51 competitors, 39 youth riders and 12 adults signed on to compete and there was a great deal more than that ready to provide vocal support. It wasn’t a case of putting surplus in the freezer, but raiding it for more supplies!
What can I say about the racing other than I know all too well what it’s like to ride up our hill, so every single person who gave it a go deserves a shout out. The spectators made for a brilliant atmosphere, ringing cowbells, cheering and shouting encouragement to every single rider.
It would be amiss of me not to mention that a youth rider, Evan Davies from Maindy Flyers who completed the climb in 1min 10secs, set the fastest time. Fastest adult was Abergavenny Road Club member James Woodier with a 1min 14secs ride and is the 2012 Abergavenny Road Club Hill-Climb Champion
Other notable facts from the night – all the food went! My wife Christine and Stephanie Best, one of the club coaches and a great volunteer, didn’t leave the kitchen as they slaved over the cooker!
It seems pretty certain with all the feedback I’ve received the hill-climb will become an annual event. Even Ben Simmons and Amy Roberts who were both there as spectators seem eager to get their best wheels out next year! I’ve also tapped up Magnus Backstedt to compete and he said he might as long as it is no more than a minute long!
So watch this space for an event next year that should be a lot bigger and even better. Before I get the go ahead though, Christine said she wants guarantees we are getting caterers in as she is not going to be missing out on all the fun.
Thanks again for reading, now back to Rough Ride.