Transport expert from Leeds is riding high in gruelling world of hill climb cycling

Hannah Riechert. Picture: Col Morley.
Hannah Riechert. Picture: Col Morley.

She helps keep big cities like Leeds on the move in her day job as a senior transport planner.

But Hannah Riechert is really going places outside of work as well, thanks to her love affair with the sport of cycling.

Hannah Riechert recovers after a hill climb.

Hannah Riechert recovers after a hill climb.

Hannah, 30, from Meanwood, has achieved notable success over a number of years in both triathlon and road race cycling events.

Now, though, she has made the switch to hill climb cycling, where riders battle it out in time trials on short-but-brutal courses and fearsome gradients.

The events are not for the faint-hearted, with exhausted riders often having to be helped off their bikes at the finish line by volunteers known as ‘catchers’.

But the discipline’s lung-bursting demands hold little fear for Hannah, who was among the 10 fastest women at the recent British National Hill Climb Championships, staged on a 700-metre course at Pea Royd Lane, in Stocksbridge, near Sheffield.

Hannah Riechert.

Hannah Riechert.

And today she told why she spends so much of her free time pushing herself to the limit in an environment that is a world away from her mostly deskbound job in Leeds with engineering and planning consultancy WSP.

Hannah said: “Everyone in the office thinks I’m absolutely bonkers! After a hill climb, you’re normally either passed out at the side of the road or you’ve thrown up in some bushes.

“I suppose it’s all about finding out how far you can push yourself and then getting that feeling of accomplishment, knowing you’ve given your best.

“It’s not something that comes massively easy, there can be tears – but when you see your numbers go up and they’re not that far off what the pros do, it’s a real ‘wow’ moment.”

Hannah, who is originally from Germany and studied transport planning and environment at the University of Leeds, represented Team GB in the Triathlon European Age Group Championships in 2016.

Her switch to hill climb cycling was in part motivated by a desire to cut back slightly on her training schedule, which during her triathlon days involved 6am swimming sessions as well as evening runs of up to 12 miles.

WSP has two offices in Leeds, with its experts recently working alongside Leeds City Council on plans for park-and-ride schemes at Stourton and Elland Road.