DEVOTED cycle event organiser and road racer Marc Etches has been delighted to see how the Think Simplyheath Monsal Hill time trial is now being ranked as possibly the biggest climbing event in the country.
Its success is down to two months of effort from Marc, his Sheffrec cycle club colleagues, sponsors, supporters and the hundreds of spectators who have put this annual Peak District spectacle on the map after it rolled out on Sunday for the 82nd time and is starting to attract pro-riders and national media interest.
Grass banks were packed and many lined the climb for free cheering and running alongside riders with echoes of the Tour de France.
Marc said: “I was amazed by the crowds. The event is gets a real boost and with the likes of pro-riders Russ and Dean Downing turning out that also pulls in the supporters. We’re getting interest from all over the country and it’s clear we’ve got something really special here in the Peak District.
“The supporters are amazing but their vast numbers mean we’ll have to start looking at crowd control because everyone wanted to get close to the riders which is great but we have to protect the cyclists.
“The success and appeal of the Monsal Hill Climb is about getting the balance right between attracting top riders and creating opportunities for youngsters, veterans and local cycle clubs and we hope to maintain that.
“You can’t go and play football down the park with David Beckham but at Monsal you can pitch yourself against the best and we try to reflect that by offering a range of prizes for different categories. We also like to feel the area benefits with proceeds going to Little Longstone Village Group for the local church. ”
This event, which is free for spectators, would not have been possible without the long hours put in by Marc and Sheffrec CC members and marshals who peg back bushes, sweep the road and clear up with a vast litter-picking operation. Marc also praised backers Chesterfield Bike Shop, Pelican Cycles, Montura Bikes, Little Longstone Village Group, Hobbs cafe and the local authorities.