The last time I got invited to a black tie dinner, I think we were in a different millennium. Actually the CTT event wasn’t strictly black tie. The dress code said ‘black tie or lounge suit’. I still had to look up ‘lounge suit’ on my modern friend – google.com. From what I could make out, a ‘lounge suit’ is just a posh way of saying suit. Fortunately, I did have a suit – albeit with several layers of dust; I’ve been toying with giving it to a charity shop for the past five years. I’m kind of glad I kept it now. At least it still fitted me – I suppose one advantage of being a hill climber is that you don’t have that nasty shock of not fitting into clothes that used to fit you 10 years ago.
Actually, when I say fitted me, it was really quite baggy – they just don’t make too many suits for 6 foot 3, 61 kg, lanky hill climbers. I guess the market is pretty small. Anyway I broke a habit of a lifetime and spent some money on smart clothes. I bought a skinny fit, £28 jacket, from Primark. It did the job and I felt regally dressed, even if my trousers didn’t match and I was wearing the same woolly socks I wore in the National hill climb championship back in October. No one noticed, fortunately.
I can’t say I was bubbling with anticipation at an awards ceremony. I love cycling and it’s nice to win. But, I’ve never been particularly enamoured of the getting awards aspect.
In many ways, I rather like the cycling time trials tradition of winning a race and getting nothing more than a cup of tea just like all the other 120 competitors. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the sport of time trials, and it was important to be part of the annual event. To use a cliché, it’s not every year you win a National Championship (unless you’re Michael Hutchinson, of course.) I thought it great that the MC for the prize ceremony was Michael Hutchinson. “And the winner of the National 10, er… well that was me again… Queue presenting himself the trophy! nice touch!” Michael did give a very nice introduction to the achievements of his competitor Matt Bottril, Matt had a very successful 2013, perhaps overtaking Hutchinson for the first time in his career.
One good thing about this year were the two special guests of honour – Malcolm Elliot and Brian Robinson. As fate would have it, both won the National Hill Climb Championship. Brian Robinson won back in 1952 on Mow Cop, and Malcolm Elliot in 1980 on Nick ‘O Pendle. Both riders, of course, went on to a very illustrious professional careers on the continent. Both rode the Tour de France and won stages in the Grand Tours. Brian Robinson being the first Brit to ever win a stage in the Tour de France. The fact such illustrious riders won the hill climb championship does make the event extra special. When presented with the trophy by the two great men, I did mumble something about it being a great honour to be on same trophy as these two guests.
There was a big number of awardees from different age categories and the disciplines of cycling time trials. It was good to see so many people, and many youngsters at the event. I think I was awardee number 99. It was quite a feat of endurance by Brian and Malcolm to be presenting prizes for such a long time.
I was just two places in front of the irrepressible John Woodburn. Aged 78, he still managed to win the Vets Time Trial series on target time. John has probably been to more CTT award ceremonies than my age. Often he gives a short speech, but this year he was tired and didn’t give any speech. A while later, we both ended up chatting on some comfy chairs away from the ceremony.
It’s hard to believe in the 60s and 70s, this awards ceremony was held at the London Albert Hall with several thousands people coming to spectate.
One thing about being at the awards ceremony was that it increased my motivation to take part in the BBAR competition next year.