National Hill Climb Championship 1996

Sunday 27th October

Promoted by Cleveland Wheelers on Carlton Bank, Cleveland

Jim on his way to bronze, 4 minutes into the ride The 1996 championship was up a classic climb into the North York Moors. Carlton Bank is nothing like as steep as Rosedale Chimney, the venue the last time the National Championship was in the North East District (in 1987), but it is a testing course that needed to be treated with respect. As some of the half-way times show, if you went off too hard you paid for it later!
The course was a narrow road, closed to traffic for the event. Gentle at first, after a cattle grid around halfway it became much steeper. I had ridden up the hill a few times the day before the championship and planned to ride a fixed wheel, reasoning that any time I lost while undergeared early on would be regained by climbing quicker on the long steep section.
My plans changed on the morning of the race when I found a piece of flint sticking out of my rear tub. At the time I only had one fixed rear wheel and there wasn't time to scrounge another, so I played it safe and rode on my road bike instead.
Having gone steadily to the cattle grid I tried a bit too hard immediately afterwards, and regretted chasing the RTTC motorbike cameraman when he came past me. By the finish I was fading fast and reckoned that the course was about a minute too long to ride the way I did.
National Hill Climb Course 1996 - Carlton Bank
I was pleased with my time, though, and when first Tom Anderson and then Chris Newton finished slower than my time I realised that a medal was a possibility. Steve Hulme made sure it wouldn't be a gold medal when he took four seconds off my time. Jeff Wright was taking a year out of the UK racing scene, in Australia, so Stuart Dangerfield only had to beat six minutes for his fourth title. This he duly did, to win by a massive 22 seconds.
And so ended the season in which I improved the most. I was now a first category roadman, had finished my first Premier Calendar race (the Tour of the Peak), set a club record at 25 miles (51-25 on the A34, a time I never came close to again) and became the first Oxford University rider to win a medal at a National Championship for nearly 100 years!

The 1996 top ten

Pos. No. Name Team Halfway Finish
1 120 Stuart Dangerfield Parker International R.T. 2-24.1 5-39.6
2 115 Steve Hulme Freetown Pace 2-33.7 6-1.4
3 95 Jim Henderson Oxford University C.C. 2-32.5 6-5.7
4 110 Chris Newton North Wirral Velo 2-25.0 6-9.6
5= 105 Tom Anderson Holme Valley Wheelers 2-34.2 6-14.1
5= 80 Brian Green Oldham Century C.C. 2-19.3 6-14.1
7 60 Bill Moore Leo R.C. 2-43.9 6-17.5
8 20 Phil Marshall Global Racing 2-38.9 6-18.8
9 45 Dave Cook Middridge C.R.T. 2-38.9 6-18.8
10 70 Shaun Tyson Middridge C.R.T. 2-33.4 6-25.3
Team: Middridge C.R.T. 19-15.8; Cook, Tyson, Graeme Stirzaker (6-27.7)
Course: START at mark on road approximately 120 yards towards hill from Busby Hall entrance at hole in hedge. Proceed up hill to FINISH at a point marked on road approximately 30 yards past two almost opposite gates.
Length 1876 m
Height gain 190 m
Winner average power 426 W

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