Popular cycle climb event is on the up and up

Pictured are the crowds during the 2012 Monsal Hill Climb cycle time trial.
Pictured are the crowds during the 2012 Monsal Hill Climb cycle time trial.

The Monsal Hill Climb cycle time trial has been on competitive cyclists’ and spectators’ calendars for an amazing 83 years.

Many riders who are coming to the end of months of road racing or a long summer of club rides turn their focus to the climb as a great way of crowning their season on a high.

The famous event which rolls out from 11am, on Sunday, October 6, was started by a few mates riding out to Monsal Head, in the Peak District, at the end of the track season and timing each other up the hill along a rough and unmade road.

Following its launch in 1930, it has gone on to attract around 100 riders from club level to seasoned professionals from all over the country. In 2009 it was the first running of the event on a closed road with a record entry of 110 riders.

Laurence Dodd riding for Sheffield Phoenix CC set the first sub one minute 30 second course record by posting a one minute 26.9 second time in 1941, this stood for three year when CF Belton also riding for Sheffield Phoenix posted a one minute 25 second ride up the hill.

This time would stand for 13 years and was finally broken by famous British and international pro Tom Simpson riding for Scala Wheelers with a time of one minute 23.4 seconds.

It was regional legend Malcolm Elliott who would be next to lay claim to the record time which has now stood for 32 years.

Elliott first won the event in 1980 with a time of one minute 20.6 seconds beating Simpson’s time by over three seconds.

Malcolm came back to Monsal the following year in 1981 and set the current course record of one minute 14.2 seconds and is still the master of Monsal.

The only other riders to come close in recent years has been local professional Russell Downing who posted a time of one minute 18.3 seconds in 2003 and last year’s champion Jack Pullar, of Wheelbase.CO.UK/MGD who posted one minute 18.9 seconds.

Albert Thorpe organised a 60th anniversary event in 1990. He had a host of past winners attending with Malcolm Elliott by then a top pro in Spain to present the prizes.

That year there were 60 entries. But the 60th proved a disappointment for Albert’s son David Thorpe who finished second, losing out by less than a second, with a time of one minute 28 seconds.

It would have been something for the organisers son to win the 60th anniversary event. As a consolation Rotherham Wheelers won the team prize.

Marc Etches, current Sheffrec CC event organiser, told how Ike Delbridge organised the Monsal Hill Climb for 25 years then Albert Thorpe ran the event for about 27 years before passing on the mantle to his son David who continued to run the hill climb for 14 more years.

Ike married Albert’s cousin so this event was in the Thorpe family for best part of 67 years. Ike was also one of the original riders at the first event. After finishing organising Ike took over commentary at the event.

David Thorpe passed on the event to Marc Etches in 2008.

Marc is the Club Secretary of Sheffrec CC and has grown the club from just eight members to over 100 in ten years. He is a second cat road rider, a qualified BC Road commissaire and a member of the British Cycling Yorkshire Board. He organises the British Cycling Wombwell Youth League and various road races with help form his club who also organise three time trials a year. Just for the record all four Monsal Hill Climb organisers have been previous riders before they organised the event.

Monsal has had many different sponsors over the years; Reality hair, Derbyshire building society, Kite training for 17 years, Pritchard plumbing, Gurung training, Ideal Travel, Lilley flowers and the café at the top of the hill. More recently it has have had support from A4E, JE James Cycles, Science in Sport and now Pelican Cycles and the Derbyshire Times.

The schoolboy trophy was donated by the café which stands at the top of the climb years ago. The Cope Trophy is the old North Midlands prize now presented to the vets winner. The Dick Aldridge Trophy for the winner was in the past presented by his son who sponsored the event for years as Kite Training, he also did the commentary for 17 years.

Dick Aldridge, Albert Thorpe and Ike Delbridge were the founder members of the North Midlands BCF division as was current Commentator Doug Bond. Monsal Hill Climb’s successful history and it’s on-going success has been down to the dedication of the organisers, volunteers and villagers who have forged its place as one of the region’s and possibly the country’s great hill time trials.

For daily updates on this year’s event keep posted to www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk.