Racing to put city centre cycling routes back on the map

Exhausted cyclists aged from 7 to 50 collapsed onto the Olympic Legacy Park grass last weekend after completing the site’s first gruelling Urban Cyclo Cross races

Cyclists ride round route on field
Cyclists take part in Urban Cyclo Cross races.

The 90 participants rode multiple laps of a course including the ups and downs of the Don Valley Bowl terraces and hills, along with sprints and twisting chicanes around the Legacy Park site. Eventual winners were Emma Knight in the women’s race and Matt Dix and Killian Lomas in the men’s and vets sections.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere, with top athletes and families racing,” said organiser Adam Simmonite.

He added that the unique Urban Cyclo Cross series was now firmly on the Outdoor City calendar, and showed that the city centre could be just as much an attraction to sports fans as the surrounding Peak District.

“These are exciting, innovative events, and by running them in places like Park Hill and the OLP we really get to show off the Outdoor City to both visitors and locals.”

Adam is now planning a new series of challenges for 2019. Next year’s Park Hill event will include a double cobbled hill climb for masochistic cyclists, along with other sports and attractions like running and parkour.

Man cycling at top of hill
Cyclist takes part in Urban Cyclo Cross races

Although not yet confirmed, a night time city centre hill climb within the John Lewis car park is also looking likely for the summer, and he’s in early discussions about a new ‘city triathlon’ at the Olympic Legacy Park next year.

The nearby Accelerate running store is helping plan the race on the park’s run routes, and the cycling event will again include multiple off road sections to test riders’ skills as well as speed. And the watersports part of the triathlon aims to be a kayaking event from Victoria Quays to Attercliffe.

“There are so many cycling events now, we want to make sure organisers all get together to plan a great year of exciting sport for visitors and spectators,” said Adam. “We’re also very happy to hear from businesses or venues who’d like to get involved in future. As the dust settles after this year’s fun, we’re hoping for a really monster year of urban cycling in 2019.”

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