NATIONAL Hill Climb Championship
Chris Boardman sat alone on the summit of the Nick O'Pendle on Sunday morning his head clasped between his hands, not sure whether he was the RTTC's national hill-climb champion or not.
He had pounded up the 1234 yards from Sabden village to the summit in 3-29.2 to break Malcolm Elliott's 1980 record by 4.2 seconds, yet he still could not be sure.
After all, there was still Paul Curran to come, the defending champion, and Boardmans Manchester Wheelers-Trumanns Steel clubmate. And no-one writes Curran off until he has crossed the line.
Phil Sheard (Bradford Wheelers) had preceded Boardman to the top of the hill in 3-43.0, a certainty for the bronze medal we thought.
Curran flashed across the line expertly fielded by the Rossendale RC marshalls, and Boardman could stand it no longer.
'Somebody tell me what he has done" he implored.
"You never believe you're going to beat him" he said, remembering last year's championship when he lost by four-fifths of a second to Curran. "He is so demoralising".
At first Curran had thought he was second in a time of 3-33.6, but then it was amended to 10 seconds slower and Sheard had gained the silver instead of the bronze he expected to receive.
"I'm glad that's over," said Curran. "You just have to go as hard as you can. It's a time trial".
"I'm quite satisfied with the ride," Boardman had said before the arrival of Curran. "It's nerve-wracking to get it all out in three minutes. Some start too fast."
There was little indication that a course record would be broken when the early starters set off. Overnight frost had brought about the first indication of winter, and with few people around, little in the way of vocal encouragement to help the likes of Peter Georgi (Mid-Devon RC), whose 4-19.2 set the standard for 35 minutes until brought down to 4-12.2 by Ian Dalton (Cherry Valley RT), off number 40.
Dalton's reign at the top didn't last for long however, for two minutes behind was Chris Myhill (Sheffield Poly), crowned as the Students hill-climb champion only the week before on the same hill, who stormed up in 3-55.42, the first to break the four minutes barrier.
The gallery, which by now was filling up and growing louder in voice, had to wait another 18 minutes before a new leader was announced in Jeff Wright (Tyne Velo) in 3-47.4.
The week before in the North Lancs event on the same hill, a gale had blown the competitors up, but although the sun was shining on Sunday, there was little to aid the riders.
Twenty minutes after Wright had ridden, it was the turn of Rob Langley (Solihull CC) to go top in 3-46.6.
"I aimed to do a 3-30, "he said. "I used 63 fixed, that seemed just right".
Suddenly the wind blew up for the later starters, and the prospect of a record ride and close finish seemed possible.
Sheard, off number 100, was climbing strongly, catching his minute man before the line, with 3-43.0 as the new leader.
"I used 59.4, lower than last week, "Sheard said. "I've ridden four hill climbs and won two, won the West Yorks division road race championship".
With one or two exceptions, most of the competitors finished looking surprisingly fresh. Boardman, however, had given his all, and it was some time before he could voice an opinion.
"It was crucial to ride this hill before" he said. "I've ridden the 'national' once before. Last week there were hellish conditions, and it was blowing a gale. I beat Phil Sheard by six seconds then, this week it is 14 seconds. You ride hill-climbs according to your ability. Last week I didn't get everything out, but this week it was the 'national'.
Boardman used a gear of 60 inches, Curran was on 60.1. "Last year the pressure was on me because it was a local hill" said Curran. "This year the pressure was off me. It's been hard training since I got back from Korea, more motivation-wise.
It had been a good championship in every possible way, with first-class organisation from the Rossendale RC on behalf of the North District Council, brilliant sunshine and a sporting crowd who gave little bother to the other road-users, for the hill was not closed, and a chance to catch up with old friends for the hill-climb championship is just as much a social event as a sporting event.
1. Chris Boardman (Manchester Wh-Trumanns), 2-19.2 3-29.2
2. P. Sheard (Bradford Wh), 2-26.6 3-43.0
3. P. Curran (Manchester Wh), 2-21.4 3-43.6
4. R. Langley (Solihull CC), 2-32.4 3-46.6
5. J. Wright (Tyne Velo), 2-34.8 3-47.4
6. P. Longbottom (Manchester Wh) 2-29.8 3-48.6
7. B. Johnson (Wembley RC) 3-51.8
8. C. Myhill (Sheffield Poly) 3-55.2
9. S. Huime (Stoke AC) 3-58.6
10. P. Greenwood (North Lancs RC) 3-59.0
11. D. Long (Drighlington BC) 4-1.2
12. R. Smart (Mapperley CC) 4-2.8
13. W. Belcher (Rossendale RC) 4-3.0
14. M. Ellerton (North Lancs RC) 4-4.8
15. R. Hobbs (Coldra RC) 4-4.8
16. J. Atkinson (Halifax C 4-6.0
17. N. Dunn (Manchester Wh) 4-6.6
18. P. Kynch (University of Bristol CC) 4-7.0
19. J. Barnes (Gloucester City CC) 4-7.0
20. P. Wass (Nottingham Clarion C C) 4-7.4
21. A.Russell (Keighley Velo RC) 4-7.4
22. C. Gough (VC Elan) 4-8.8
23. M. Benson (Halifax RC) 4-8.8
24. M. Mansell (Worthing Excelsior CC) 4-9.0
25. S. Keiiy (Beeston RC) 4-10.8
26. I. Dolton (Cherry Valley RT) 4-12.2
27. S. Green (Qldham Century RC) 4-13.0
28. J. Kirchin (Mansfield RC) 4-13.0
29. R. Thompson (Barnesbury CC) 4-13.2
30. M. Ridding (Brereton Wh) 4-13.6
Team - Manchester Wh-Trumanns (Chris Boardman, Paul Curran, Pete Longbottom) 11-1.4.