On Sunday 18 July, over 400 cyclists pushed themselves to the limit in the scorching summer heat at the long-awaited return of the Hemel Hillbuster.
Starting and finishing at a sunny Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead, the sportive event welcomed individual riders and clubs from Dacorum and beyond – offering a choice of 60k or 100k routes across the Chiltern Hills and up the area’s most challenging climbs.
Organised by local charity, DENS, proceeds from the Hemel Hillbuster will help towards supporting local people facing homelessness, poverty and social exclusion. So far, the event has raised a fantastic £21,861.
Cyclists thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the popular event again after its 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic.
John Kelly, the first cyclist to finish the 100k course, was impressed by the route as it was well sign-posted and marshalled around all the junctions.
He added: ‘I found out about the event after receiving an email from British Cycling about sportives in the local area. I had not heard about DENS before, but I’m glad I know about them now. It feels very good to be able to help others in a small way.’
Ab Woolass, who travelled all the way from Coventry and is a member of Coventry Road Club and The Gear Up Cycle Club, said: ‘Thank you to all the organisers, marshals and volunteers. I had a great day and I’m pleased I got all the way around in a good time. I will definitely be up for this again next year and try to raise even more for DENS.’
The event’s success would not have been possible without the incredible effort of DENS’ many volunteers and corporate partners – all of whom gave up their Sunday to process registrations, refresh cyclists at food stations and marshal the course, while ensuring all health and safety protocols were being observed.
The Hemel Hillbuster, run in association with British Cycling, was kindly sponsored by Imagine, a property company with several estate and letting agency branches in Hertfordshire.
Berkhamsted’s Lovelo Cycleworks supported riders on the day with a mobile bike repair service at Gadebridge Park and along the course, while Hemel-based brewery, Mad Squirrel, were on hand to provide some deserved post-ride beverages to thirsty cyclists.
Nicky Maxwell-Braithwaite, Community & Events Fundraising Manager at DENS, said: ‘A huge thank you to everyone involved in the Hemel Hillbuster for making it an unforgettable event. The energy and spirit on the day, from the hundreds of passionate cyclists to all of our wonderful volunteers, was amazing as always. It’s an incredible feeling to finally return to live events after over a year, and none of it would be possible without you!
‘This year has been tougher than ever and every penny raised through the Hemel Hillbuster will count towards ensuring that we can continue to meet the needs of those most vulnerable within our community.’
The team at DENS have now started preparations for their next flagship event: the popular annual Sleepout, which is due to take place on Friday 26 November.
For more information about DENS, please visit www.dens.org.uk.