Every year on the last weekend of October the death knell of the cycling season is sounded by the National Hill Climb Championship. It’s been won by luminaries like Brian Robinson, Chris Boardman and Malcolm Elliott, and yet the story of the championship is one of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, of amateur cyclists prevailing against the professionals. It’s a tale of obsession, pain and asceticism – the key elements in the fight against the insidious grasp of gravity.
The violence of the race is set against the beauty of the landscape, from the supernatural past of Pendle Moor to the granite outcrops of Dartmoor, from the glacial High Peak to the bucolic charms of the Cotswolds. It’s an esoteric and uniquely British event, a hymn to the clustered contours of this island, sung by the Corinthian exponents of amateur sport. In an era when cycling as a sport has never been more popular, this ideal is more important than ever.
A Corinthian Endeavour traces the full history of the Championship event from its inception in 1944 through to 2014, and the incorporation of a Women’s Championship from 1998 onwards. It is illustrated with 28b/w and 21 colour photographs.
Author: Paul Jones is an occasional racing cyclist and ardent hill climber who struggles to balance the demands of writing about cycling with doing some actual cycling. He came in a long way behind Sir Bradley Wiggins in the 2014 National Time Trial Championships, once scraped a 49-minute “25”and has won a couple of hill climbs in the South West of England.