A classic Sunday bike ride involves a leisurely pedal around the sunny country-side, with the offer of a slice of cake thrown in at the end.
Downhill cycling on the other hand, involves hurtling yourself down a hill at speeds of around 20mph, dodging lumps, bumps and trees. As for that slice of cake, that’s been mushed around with dust, dirt, and lumps of last year’s Christmas Tree to create the surface that’s raced on.
The mulchy conditions were not ideal for racing, and an extra sprinkling of rain in the early afternoon, as both sets of riders were practicing, threatened to create myriad problems. However, the wet weather abated, and the sun poked through the trees in time for the first of two timed runs.
It was Alistair Baron of the University of Sheffield who powered down the course fastest on the first run, with a time of 43.2 seconds, some 0.6 seconds quicker than the rest of the field. Despite this performance of deft bike handling, quick pedalling and sheer bravery, his time alone would not be enough, as the combined best five times from each side would decide who would be victorious.
In the second runs, Baron was once again the fastest, shaving 0.4 seconds off his first run, a saving that was aided by his finish at the bottom of the course, as he hurled his bike across the make shift finishing line at the edge of a mud pool more suited to a safari park than accurate timekeeping. His improvement was also matched by Hallam’s best rider, Sam Robson, but the best rider in Maroon and White was still over half a second off the pace.
It was at the top of the course where one of the most contrived results in Varsity history was announced. After counting the fastest five times of both sides, there was a dead heat. Adding a sixth rider did nothing to remove the tie. And so, it was decided that, out of the fastest five times overall, the team with the most riders on the Top 5 podium would be victorious. Despite the domination of Baron, he was only joined on this podium by a single teammate, giving Hallam victory in the second cycling event, and securing half a point on the Varsity scoreboard.
The Cycling Clubs are still to compete in three more disciplines, BMX, Hill Climb & a Time Trial in order to decide who will gain another full Varsity point. Read all the reports from the different cycling events as they happen here.