Tejvan Pettinger, 4th in the 2014 National Hill climb reflects on the championship
Last year I won the UK national hill climb championship at the 9th attempt. It was a great experience, and so I made every effort to try and retain the title this year. I had a good season finishing 3rd in the national 100 mile TT and winning 17 races out of 31. It was also great to be able to wear the national jersey in Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team colours for the hill climb season.
(Before the race, I think only one of us was expecting a photo)
The big event of the year was the national hill climb championship at the end of October. I had great form, but it was a shorter hill than last year, so not quite my forte. I had hope, but knew I could finish in any place from 1st to 10th - it would be all very close.
This year quite a few members of Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team came up to watch, and it was nice to have the support.
When the race started I felt a tremendous focus and intensity. My mind was empty during the entire 3 and half minutes of the race. It was exhilarating experience; there was lots of noise and spectators, but everything outside was a blur. I seemed to ride on automatic, it was very different sensation to a training ride.
As the hill got steeper, I seemed to increase the effort. (I was fastest over the last half of the course) At this point, you just feel on the edge, on the limit of what you are capable of.
(Photo Russell Ellis)
I just felt completely absorbed in the experience of cycling uphill as fast as I could. Eventually the line appeared, and I finished utterly exhausted.
(Photo Dan Monaghan)
In hill climbs, they have people to catch you at the top of the hill (to stop you falling over from exhaustion) and then wheel you into a grass verge where you can lie down.
(After race. Photo Dan Monaghan)
After the intensity of the race, I felt a great sense of joy and exhilaration. It was really something, even if you couldn't rationalise it.
Despite riding out of my skin, it was only good enough for fourth place, just 8 seconds behind the winner. The result was disappointing, but I got a lot of joy from the intensity of the race, I felt a real buzz for several days after.
The night before, I had a dream that I came 4th, and although I tried to ignore it before the race, it perhaps subconsciously helped to lower my expectations. Overall, the championship was a great experience and a lesson you can get joy - even from finishing without a medal!
I wanted to win, but this year it didn't work out. Still, it was a memorable experience. I will never forget that 4 minutes of riding uphill without a single thought - I wish I could do that in meditation!
Sri Chinmoy's philosophy of self-transcendence says we should always compete with ourself and be detached from the result. What matters is the inner effort and personal self-transcendence. It's a great philosophy, but even better when you can feel some of it in practise.
“Who is the winner? Not he who wins, but he who has established his cheerful oneness with the result, which is an experience in the form of failure or success, a journey forward or a journey backward.”
Sri Chinmoy, Everest-Aspiration Part 3, Agni Press, 1977