Berkhamsted Cycling Club awarded the Harp Hilly crown for fifth time

Chairman of Berkhamsted Cycling Club, Mike Plowman, is presented with the Harp Hilly 100 Shield by the mayor of Berkhamsted, Councillor Sue Beardshaw.
Chairman of Berkhamsted Cycling Club, Mike Plowman, is presented with the Harp Hilly 100 Shield by the mayor of Berkhamsted, Councillor Sue Beardshaw.

Five-time winners Berkhamsted Cycling Club have been presented with the Harp Hilly 100 shield by the mayor of Berkhamsted.

The club won the Harp Hilly 100 title earlier this year for the fifth time in a row.

The event is a 100km ‘reliability ride’ which takes place in early January every year and includes some of the toughest climbs in the area.

The winning club is the one with the most riders to complete the 100km route, which Berkhamsted CC did with 58 riders – more then double the number brought by the next-best club.

As five-time winners, the club now take permanent possession of the shield.

The mayor of Berkhamsted, Councillor Sue Beardshaw, presented the shield to the club after their regular Saturday morning club ride at The Kings Arms pub in Berkhamsted on February 16.

Initial club entry numbers looked promising and the Berkhamsted CC committee knew there was a good chance the club could retain the shield.

That said, rumours were rife that last year’s runners-up Verulam CC were keen to reclaim the trophy for their cabinet.

Berko could not afford to be complacent, especially with the constant threat of winter coughs or injuries could spell disaster.

The morning of Sunday, January 20, rolled around and as predicted there were a number of riders who had dropped out due to illness, injury and last-minute commitments but Berko’s ride coordinator had liaised with the tournament organiser and managed to re-allocate some spots.

The weather on the run-up to the ride was very cold and there was no guarantee the event would even take place as planned.

As it turned out, Sunday morning was extremely cold with temperatures at -2C the night before and the mercury didn’t rise above 4C for the ride.

A total of 60 well-wrapped club members lined up for the start with lots of talk of black ice, finishing and getting back to the starting HQ for warmth, coffee and cakes.

Special mention went to ex-club chairman Michael Gower who made the journey up from Kent to ride with the club.

Soon everyone was underway, feeling the cold but soon warming up with the hills of the Chilterns. There was the distinct possibility of punctures and a few Berko members had this misfortune but everyone rode in groups to ensure help and support was at hand.

Club racer Simon Pearce whistled solo round the course in three hours 16 minutes at an average of 19.5mph -- with a slow puncture.

Everyone had a great, albeit cold, ride and the club soon received official confirmation that they had retained the shield.

A total of 58 riders completed the course, with nearest rivals Verulam CC having only 21.

The club said: “Congratulations to all riders and supporters. [It was a] truly great Berkhamsted CC achievement to win the trophy five years in a row.

“A big thanks also to the Harp Hilly 100 organisers and Trevor Hill, who captured a superb day out on camera.”

The club are hosting their own Chilterns classic reliability ride, The Berkhamsted Spring Classic, this Sunday, March 10.