A Corinthian Endeavour by Paul Jones tells the story of the UK National hill climb Championship from 1944 to 2014. The championship holds a unique place in the UK cycling calendar, always being held in the last weekend in October, marking the end of the domestic time trial season. It is a race that has, over the years, attracted some of the top professionals, such as Tour de France riders like Chris Boardman, Brian Robinson, and Malcolm Elliot - but also a breed of specialist hill climbers, such as Granville Sydney and Jim Henderson - riders who are ideally built for racing up steep hills.
In this book, the author Paul Jones, takes us on a humorous and informed journey through the diverse and sometimes quirky nature of the British hill climb season. As the title suggests, Jones is also interested in the amateur ethos and the fact that the race embodies some of the finest qualities of cycle racing.
For the uninitiated, Jones explains some of the fascinating aspects which go into a successful hill climber - a high power to weigh ratio, an ability to do repetitive, lung bursting hill climb intervals, meticulous attention to stripping weight from his bike, and the ability to ride at the very limit of physical and mental endurance.
Within the book, Jones devotes a chapter to Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team rider, Tejvan Pettinger. Pettinger won the event in 2013 - after ten years of trying and near misses. Jones examines those 10 years of near misses that characterised Tejvan’s previous attempts to win the title, but also has a look at the spiritual aspect of Tejvan’s cycling.
Writing in the book:
“And yet, there is another layer of spirituality to Pettinger. He doesn't hide it, it's emblazoned across the jersey of the 'club' he rides for, Sri Chinmoy CC (sic):” “p253
Quoting Pettinger in the book, he says:
“The spiritual life has to come first, but fortunately, cycling is very complimentary. (though) I never race on wednesday evenings because of meditation. I could never be a professional.”
“I’m not the kind of person who needs to win for my self-esteem. I just enjoy cycling and I enjoy cycling hard. The motivation to try to win the championship - it's more than an ego thing, it's an opportunity to achieve something; there is an inner element to it. Sri Chinmoy's philosophy is that a big thing is self-transcendence, trying to go beyond your limits, spiritually, mentally, physically. Trying to go faster is part of spirituality, of meditation. If you can be happy, in a good consciousness, you can bring a lot of energy to the fore. When you're abut to race it can be easy to be nervous or think about your competitors. That's an important challenge: to be in a better consciousness." p.254
Talking about the mental aspect of racing:
"Often when I'm doing a race," he says, "I'm trying to keep my mind quiet and not think. To help that I repeat a mantra, like 'Supreme'. It's just a mantra I use in meditation. I don't want any thoughts going through my mind, only the mantra, inwardly. The best experience is when you're in the zone, you've not got that 'did I go off too hard, too early, that spectator's looking at me funny.' You're absorbed in the effort. That's the real buzz of hill climbs; you can get into this state which you very rarely get into; you're so beyond the limit, you're way beyond your ordinary experience and it has some parallels to meditation, because in meditation you're trying to get away from your mind and the thought, everyday world, and here you're doing it in a very real way because you're pushing yourself so much. And it's torture physically, but you get some kind of joy from it, and you look back and you think, 'Wow, that was a real three minutes. I really lived in that three minutes. I don't quite know what went on but I was on the edge and experiencing something different.'