Derbyshire Times’ reporter overcomes Peak challenge

Pictured, courtesy of photographer Dev Hall, is Derbyshire Times' reporter Jon Cooper taking on the 2011 A4e Monsal Hill Challenge.
Pictured, courtesy of photographer Dev Hall, is Derbyshire Times' reporter Jon Cooper taking on the 2011 A4e Monsal Hill Challenge.

AS CYCLISTS circled atop Monsal Dale there was a sense of a great battle about to unfold.

Their nemesis for the day was a 675-yard, one-in-six steep monster waiting to drain every ounce of strength from all challengers during Sunday’s 81st A4e Monsal Hill Climb time trial.

And Derbyshire Times’ reporter Jon Cooper was among 117 riders to conquer the hill and, below, recounts his experience for the newspaper’s website.

I joined these road warriors as we threw ourselves into the jaws of the valley to battle with every sinew to climb back up its unforgiving slope in the fastest time our bodies would allow during this superbly organised Sheffrec Cycling Club event.

We proudly turned our wheels in the tracks of internationally famous Monsal Hill Climb competitors from the past, including former world champion Tom Simpson and former British national champion Malcolm Elliott.

Hundreds of wonderful supporters converged as I swooped with other riders into the valley’s depths and queued at the start line, bereft of bravado as we waited in eerie silence.

Riders exchanged tips as we sought any possible advantages but the general consensus seemed to be to hang on for dear life.

My number was called. I lined up, my heart pounding, my feet clamped into my cleats, my bike held firm by a marshal during what seemed an interminable countdown – but finally I was off and the waiting was over.

Hurtling along a flat starting stretch I resisted the temptation to sprint and saved my legs for the worst to come.

The ramping base of the hill hit me harder than I’d anticipated. My legs immediately surged with blood and cried out for oxygen as I lifted out of the saddle until a sharper rise slapped me back down.

I needed patience as my slowing, tormented pedal turns weathered the climb’s steepest and most merciless slopes, my front wheel lifting as I powered forth.

As I pushed my pedals through a wall of agony and kicked down against unrelenting, gruelling asphalt I suddenly heard the rousing cheer of spectators at the summit and lifted up and out of the saddle for one final push.

I searched for a non-existent lower gear and my body twisted and contorted as it sought any position that would offer some relief but there was none.

I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and was forced into a dark place of crippling, dizzying pain where my lungs cried out for air, my heart pounded from my rib cage and I threw myself over the finish line into a breathless, nauseous heap.

It would be minutes before I could breathe easily, before I could speak, before I could comprehend that I had beaten my target of 2mins 30secs with a finishing time of 2mins 27.4secs.

And every one of the 117 riders who took part in this amazing annual feat and pushed themselves beyond their limits had once again helped make this event one of cycling’s great spectacles.

Overall winner RST RT Trigon rider Gunnar Gronlund, of Sweden, who lives in Chesterfield, finished in 1min 26secs, followed by Matlock Cycling Club’s Chris Metcalfe, at 1min 27secs, and Buxton CC rider Lee Baldwin, at 1min 27.9secs.

Gunnar, 24, said: “It’s great to have won, especially because it feels like a local event for me.”

Professional Motorpoint cyclist Malcolm Elliott, 50, whose Monsal Hill record time of 1min 14.2secs remains intact, presented trophies to category winners including junior, senior, veteran and the best team Sheffrec CC.

He said: “It’s 30 years since I set the record and since then I’ve always had a keen interest to see if anyone else can get close. This event has a great atmosphere and it’s one of the top hill climbs if not the best.”

RESULTS:

Top 10

1. Gunnar Gronlund RST RT Trigon 1.26.0

2. Chris Metcalfe Matlock CC 1.27.0

3. Lee Baldwin Buxton CC 1.27.9

4. Matt Clinton MikeVaughan.co.uk 1.29.9

5. James Allen Sheffrec CC 1.31.0

6. Daniel Storey Sheffrec CC 1.31.8

7. Ashley Proctor Sheffrec CC Junior 1.34.2

8. Danny Lowthorpe Rutland CC 1.34.8

9. Mike Hutton Sheffrec CC 1.37.5

10. Jacob Scott Planet X Junior 1.37.7

Ladies

1. Jessie Walker RST RT Trigon L Junior 1.55.8

2. Diane Lee Zepnat L 2.00.4

3. Alex Deck Planet X L Vet 2.05.3

Juniors

1. Ashley Proctor Sheffrec CC Junior 1.34.2

2. Jacob Scott Planet X Junior 1.37.7

3. Will Glover Sheffrec CC Junior 1.43.8

School Boy

1. Joey Walker RST RT Trigon SB 1.42.6 Course Record

2. Gabriel Cullaigh RST RT Trigon SB 1.44.9

3. Andrew Leigh Manchester Wheelers CC Junior 1.48.1

Vets

1. Peter Colledge Matlock CC Vet 1.46.1

2. Craig Lamb Alford Wheelers CC Vet 1.47.1

3. Carl Sawyer Kiveton Park CC Vet 1.47.5

Team Prize:

Sheffrec CC

James Allen, Daniel Storey, Ashley Proctor

Mike Lazenby Trophy:

Mike Hutton Sheffrec CC 1.37.5

Sheffrec CC Club Champion:

James Allen

Rutland CC Club Champion:

Danny Lowthorpe

Lanterne Rouge:

David Cutts Birdwell Wheelers

Full Results:

1. Gunnar Gronlund RST RT Trigon 1.26.0

2. Chris Metcalfe Matlock CC 1.27.0

3. Lee Baldwin Buxton CC 1.27.9

4. Matt Clinton MikeVaughan.co.uk 1.29.9

5. James Allen Sheffrec CC 1.31.0

6. Daniel Storey Sheffrec CC 1.31.8

7. Ashley Proctor Sheffrec CC Junior 1.34.2

8. Danny Lowthorpe Rutland CC 1.34.8

9. Mike Hutton Sheffrec CC 1.37.5

10. Jacob Scott Planet X Junior 1.37.7

11. Stuart Murfin Ashfield RC 1.38.7

12. Nicholas Latimer Rutland CC 1.39.2

13. Alex Mitchell Sheffrec CC 1.39.9

14. Mike Birkby Rutland CC 1.40.4

15. Lee Brown Holme Valley Wheelers 1.41.6

16. Daniel Panichella Sheffield Sports CC 1.42.2

17. Joey Walker RST RT Trigon SB 1.42.6

18. Tom Sutton Sheffield Phoenix 1.43.5

19. Will Glover Sheffrec CC Junior 1.43.8

20. Dominic Smith We Love Mountains RT 1.44.2

21. Gabriel Cullaigh RST RT Trigon SB 1.44.9

22. Dominic Horton La Squadra 1.45.3

23. Peter Colledge Matlock CC Vet 1.46.1

24. Andrew Lees Sheffrec CC 1.46.3

25. Paul Armstrong Sheffrec CC 1.47.1

26. Craig Lamb Alford Wheelers CC Vet 1.47.1

27. Carl Sawyer Kiveton Park CC Vet 1.47.5

28. Stephen Price Derby Mercury RC 1.47.6

29. Andrew Leigh Manchester Wheelers CC Junior 1.48.1

30. Steve Roper Barnsley RC Vet 1.48.2

31. Dominic Watts Sheffield Sports CC Vet 1.49.1

32. Daniel Shinn Sheffrec CC 1.49.2

33. Stuart Baker Buxton CC 1.49.3

34. Stephen Ellis Rutland CC Vet 1.49.7

35. Chris Sharp Matlock CC 1.50.0

36. Matthew Williams Fusion CC Vet 1.50.3

37. Adam Machan Sheffrec CC 1.50.4

38. Keith Olllerenshaw Dinnington RC Vet 1.50.7

39. Steve Taylor Rutland CC 1.51.0

40. John Albaya Fusion CC 1.51.2

41. Daniel Gee Ashfield RC 1.51.9

42. Ben Lowe La Squadra 1.52.5

43. Harry Crew Derby Mercury RC SB 1.53.0

44. Liam O’Toole Sheffrec CC Junior 1.53.1

45. Nick Downham Sheffrec CC 1.53.4

46. Bert Gallagher Buxton CC 1.53.5

47. Simon Cocker Sheffrec CC Vet 1.53.5

48. Paul Kippax Rutland CC Vet 1.54.0

49. Andrew Pearson Huddersfield Star Wheelers 1.54.0

50. Lee Cains Sherwood Pines Cycles 1.54.2

51. Simon Travell Bolsover & District CC 1.55.7

52. Jessie Walker RST RT Trigon L Junior 1.55.8

53. Paul Turner-Johnson Sheffrec CC 1.56.2

54. Steve Heading Matlock CC Vet 1.56.9

55. Stewart Gregory Nottingham Clarion Vet 1.57.4

56. Jonathan Baines Buxton CC 1.57.6

57. Frans Shrijver Sheffrec CC 1.58.0

58. Julian Humphrey Sheffrec CC Vet 1.58.1

59. Ted Tunnicliffe Sheffrec CC Vet 1.58.4

60. Robin McKinnon Harworth & District Wheelers Vet 1.58.9

61. Richard Birkin Nottingham Clarion Vet 1.59.1

62. Simon Jackson Sheffrec CC Vet 1.59.5

63. Alex Jones Team CF 2.00.0

64. Diane Lee Zepnat L 2.00.4

65. Richard Towse Buxton CC 2.00.4

66. David Clarke Harworth & District Wheelers Vet 2.00.5

67. Neil Lawrence Sheffield Triathlon Club 2.01.2

68. Neal Hunt Sheffrec CC 2.02.8

69. David Banks Derby Mercury RC Vet 2.03.4

70. Stuart Burns Lyndsay Roads CC 2.03.9

71. Simon Baines Buxton CC Vet 2.04.7

72. Richard Brown Derby Mercury RC Vet 2.05.0

73. Alex Deck Planet X L Vet 2.05.3

74. Basil Adamo Sheffrec CC 2.05.5

75. Rob Freeman La Squadra 2.06.2

76. Sam Mansfield Manchester Wheelers CC Junior 2.06.7

77. Gregg Booker Matlock CC SB 2.07.2

78. Jonathan Edwards Matlock CC Vet 2.07.6

79. Neil Armitage Matlock CC 2.07.8

80. Torin Cannings Lincsquad SB 2.08.5

81. Matt Rodgers La Squadra 2.08.8

82. Adam Bebb Rockingham CC 2.09.4

83. Rosie Blount Derby Mercury RC L Junior 2.09.7

84. Brad Dransfield North Mids Youth Squad SB 2.10.1

85. Tim Cocker Dysynni CC Vet 2.12.4

86. David Swingler Zenith CC Vet 2.14.8

87. Thomas Humphrey Wakefield Tri Club SB 2.15.5

88. Oliver Wright Here Come The Belgians 2.15.6

89. Jason Goulty Sugar Cane Creative Vet 2.16.8

90. Thomas Shaw Sheffrec CC SB 2.17.4

91. Mason Hollyman Kirklees Cycling Academy SB 2.17.9

92. Thomas Colton Matlock CC SB 2.18.4

93. Mark Hall Sheffrec CC Vet 2.18.4

94. Andrew Cutts Birdwell Wheelers Junior 2.19.7

95. Neil Proctor Sheffrec CC Vet 2.19.8

96. Hannah Blount Derby Mercury RC SG 2.20.5

97. Andrew Calpin Lincsquad 2.22.8

98. Samuel Garner Buxton CC SB 2.23.2

99. Ken Roberts Preston Wheelers Vet 2.25.0

100. Sarah Birkby Rutland CC 2.25.4

101. Stephen Crapper Bolsover & District CC 2.25.4

102. Trevor Mayne Birdwell Wheelers Vet 2.26.7

103. Jonathan Cooper Norton Wheelers Vet 2.27.4

104. Hugo Reynolds Bolsover & District CC 2.28.7

105. Alice Miller Look Mum No Hands! RT 2.30.2

106. Peter Crotty Mansfield RC Vet 2.30.7

107. Paul Heggie Birdwell Wheelers Vet 2.37.8

108. Aaron Handley Buxton CC SB 2.38.6

109. Martyn Dransfield Thurcroft CC Vet 2.40.7

110. Jonathan Poole Ashley Touring CC Vet 2.41.2

111. Sara Rodgers La Squadra 2.42.4

112. Jack Shaw Sheffrec CC SB 2.42.7

113. Henry Hollyman Kirklees Cycling Academy SB 2.48.9

114. Stephen Cannings Lincsquad Vet 2.51.2

115. Gabriel Sweeney Rutland CC SB 2.52.7

116. Nick Edwards Matlock CC SB 3.02.5

117. David Cutts Birdwell Wheelers Vet 3.37.3